Berkeley will pause use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine due to extremely rare side effects

Berkeley officials said Tuesday that the city will pause the use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine due to state and federal recommendations after an extremely small percentage of people who received the shot had a rare blood clot reaction.

The news comes after California officials said the state will be pausing the use of the vaccine due to federal guidance. Of nearly 7 million people who have received the vaccine throughout the country, six women between the ages of 18-48 reportedly experienced a rare, but severe, blood clot reaction and one of them died.

Berkeley officials said pausing the Johnson & Johnson vaccine will not have significant impacts on the city’s vaccination efforts because Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines comprise the majority of the city’s supply and scheduled vaccinations.

To date, the city has administered 55,749 shots of its 64,545-dose allocation. About 36% of Berkeley’s population has been fully vaccinated through efforts from the city, county and health organizations, according to county data. 

This pause is out of an abundance of caution as data is reviewed about the reported the 6 U.S. cases of blood clotting out of 6.8 million vaccines administered,” the city said in a statement, emphasizing that all three vaccines (Moderna, Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson) are “overwhelmingly” safe and effective.

There was one walk-up clinic scheduled to administer Johnson & Johnson vaccines in Berkeley this week that will now use the Pfizer vaccine instead, the city said.

While side effects are extremely rare, the city said residents who have already received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine should monitor themselve for severe headaches, abdominal pain, leg pain or shortness of breath and seek medical attention immediately if they experience these symptoms.