The Johnson & Johnson Vaccine Pause Explained

Scores of appointments were canceled after the U.S. called for a halt on the use of the Johnson & Johnson shot. Here’s the story behind that decision.

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Federal health agencies have called for a pause in the use of Johnson & Johnson’s coronavirus shot while they examine a rare blood-clotting disorder that emerged in six women who received the vaccine.

Every state, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico halted their rollout of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine almost immediately. The same went for the U.S. military, federally run vaccination sites, and stores like CVS and Walgreens.

More than seven million people in the United States have received Johnson & Johnson shots so far, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Today, the Times science writer Carl Zimmer explains the decision-making process, how long the suspension might last and the potential effects of the pause not only in the U.S. but around the world.

On today’s episode

Carl Zimmer, a science writer and author of the “Matter” column for The New York Times.

Background reading

Injections of Johnson & Johnson’s coronavirus vaccine came to a sudden halt across the United States on Tuesday after federal health agencies called for a pause in the vaccine’s use.

The pause could continue for a week to 10 days, after expert advisers to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention determined on Wednesday that they needed more time to assess a possible link to a rare but serious blood-clotting disorder.

What does the pause mean for people who have recently received the Johnson & Johnson shot and how common are blood clots? Here’s what you need to know.

Safety worries about the AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson vaccines have jeopardized inoculation campaigns far beyond the United States. The actions of American and European officials have stoked doubts in poorer countries, where a history of colonialism and unethical medical practices have left a legacy of mistrust in vaccines.

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Carl Zimmer contributed reporting.

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