Florida vaccine sites stop J&J shots as FDA and CDC probe side effects

Rare blood clots in 6 patients under investigation

Gov. Ron DeSantis says the state will follow the recommendations of the CDC and FDA, who are investigating rare blood clots in six patients who received J&J COVID-19 doses.

MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, Fla. – People who arrived for a Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine Tuesday at the federally supported site at Miami Dade College were being turned away after the CDC and FDA recommended a pause for that shot as they look into rare side effects experienced by a small number of patients.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration said Tuesday they were investigating unusual clots that occurred 6 to 13 days after vaccination. The clots occurred in veins that drain blood from the brain and occurred together with low platelets. All six cases reported were in women between the ages of 18 and 48; there was one death and all remained under investigation.

Gov. Ron DeSantis said Florida is following those recommendations and suspending Johnson & Johnson shots until further guidance is offered by the federal government.

That means the FEMA-supported sites will again only be offering Pfizer second doses Wednesday.

DeSantis says he’s one of the 6.8 million people nationally who have received the J&J vaccine, and he’s felt no ill effects other than a temporarily sore arm.

“I don’t think people should be worried who have already had it, [people] who haven’t had any [side] effects,” the governor said.

Publix is also suspending the administration of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine at all of its pharmacies.

“I’d like to stress these events appear to be extremely rare. However, COVID-19 vaccine safety is a top priority,” FDA Acting Commissioner Janet Woodcock said on a call with reporters. “We expect it to be a matter of days for this pause.”

REPLAY BELOW: CDC and FDA media call from Tuesday morning

The CDC and FDA hold a joint briefing to discuss six reported cases of a rare type of blood clot in people who received the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine.

Posted by WPLG Local 10 on Tuesday, April 13, 2021

CDC’s Dr. Anne Schuchat said authorities have not seen similar clots after use of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, and that people should continue to get vaccinated with those shots.

Miami Dade College continued to administer second doses of Pfizer shots Tuesday, and people coming for the one-shot J&J were being directed to Hard Rock Stadium, where appointments are no longer needed and 3,000 Pfizer first doses are being given each day. Marlins Park is also an option, but appointments are necessary there.

Florida Memorial University in Miami Gardens announced Tuesday that it is opening a new state-supported facility where Moderna vaccines are being administered on a first-come, first-served basis.

In Broward County, the opening of a vaccine site at the E. Pat Larkins Community Center in Pompano Beach was delayed because it had planned to administered J&J shots. The site said it was working to obtain Pfizer or Moderna vaccines.

“As it stands now, we do have a lot of the Pfizer and Moderna,” DeSantis said of the state. “The J&J production had actually gone down.”

FDA officials emphasized that Tuesday’s action was not a mandate. Doctors and patients could still use J&J’s vaccine if they decide its benefits outweigh its risks for individual cases, said Dr. Peter Marks.

“This disease, its risks, and its long-term complications are far higher and far worse than any risk from any of the vaccines,” said Dr. Aileen Marty, an infectious disease expert at Florida International University.

The health agencies are recommending that people who were given the J&J vaccine who are experiencing severe headache, abdominal pain, leg pain, or shortness of breath within three weeks after receiving the shot contact their health care provider.

To read the joint statement from the CDC and FDA, click here.


Dr. Aileen Marty of Florida International University joined Local 10 News for a live interview about the pause of Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccines over blood clot concerns.

About the Authors:

Annaliese Garcia joined Local 10 News in January 2020. Born and raised in Miami, she graduated from the University of Miami, where she studied broadcast journalism. She began her career at Univision. Before arriving at Local 10, she was with NBC2 (WBBH-TV) covering Southwest Florida. She's glad to be back in Miami!