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COVID-19: Janssen Vaccine on Hold; Health Center Vaccine Program

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on April 13 recommended a pause in the use of the Janssen COVID-19 vaccine after six reported U.S. cases of a rare blood clot.

The clot, cerebral venous sinus thrombosis (CVST), occurred alongside low levels of blood platelets. Heparin, the anticoagulant typically used to treat blood clots, can be dangerous in this situation, so alternative treatment is required. People who develop severe headache, abdominal pain, leg pain, or shortness of breath within three weeks of receiving the Janssen vaccine should contact their health care provider. Providers should report adverse events to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System.

As of April 12, more than 6.8 million doses of the Janssen vaccine were administered in the United States. All six CVST cases occurred in women between the ages of 18 and 48, and symptoms appeared six to 13 days after vaccination. CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices will meet April 13 to review these cases; FDA also will investigate.

HHS Expands Health Center COVID-19 Vaccine Program

Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra on April 7 announced all health centers funded by the Health Resources and Services Administration, as well as Health Center Program lookalikes, will be invited to join the Health Center COVID-19 Vaccine Program.

The voluntary program launched Feb. 9 with 250 select health centers and expanded March 11 to add 700 centers. An estimated 70 percent of those who received a vaccine through this program are racial and ethnic minorities. With this expansion, 520 additional health centers that operate more than 2,500 service delivery sites now are eligible to participate.

CDC Studies Highlight COVID-19 Disparities

Two studies published in CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report highlight racial and ethnic disparities in COVID-19 emergency department (ED) visits and hospitalizations.

One study examines National Syndromic Surveillance Program ED visit data from 13 states from October to December 2020. Compared with white people, Hispanic and American Indian or Alaska Native people experienced 1.7 times the rate of ED visits for COVID-19, and Black people experienced 1.4 times the rate of ED visits.

Another study uses administrative discharge data to evaluate monthly trends in the proportion of patients hospitalized with COVID-19 by census region from March to December 2020. Within all regions, the proportion of hospitalized patients with COVID-19 was highest for Hispanic or Latino patients. Racial and ethnic disparities were largest from May to July 2020 but became less pronounced as the pandemic spread.

These studies highlight the need to prioritize prevention resources, safe school and work conditions, and access to testing and vaccination among groups disproportionately affected by the virus, as well as to address the social determinants of health that contribute to these disparities.

Visit the America’s Essential Hospitals coronavirus resource page for more information about the pandemic.

Contact Senior Director of Policy Erin O’Malley at eomalley@essentialhospitals.org or 202.585.0127 with questions.

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About the Author

Emily Schweich is a senior communications associate for America's Essential Hospitals.

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