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Houston, Harris County halt use of Johnson & Johnson vaccine — what to know if you have an appointment

Officials are investigating blood clots found in six women nationwide — the shot has been given to nearly 7 million across the U.S.

HOUSTON — Harris County and the City of Houston confirmed Tuesday they will halt use of the Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccine at the recommendation of federal health officials.

Other Houston-area vaccine providers are expected to do the same along with others across the country due to an investigation into rare reports of blood clots.

RELATED: Blood clots symptoms: What to watch for if you got the Johnson & Johnson shot

RELATED: FDA says J&J pause is a recommendation, not a mandate

"Harris County Public Health will follow FDA/CDC guidance and pause administration of the Johnson & Johnson vaccines at our sites. Residents who were scheduled to get the J&J vaccine at NRG Park today will be offered Pfizer instead. Mobile sites will be distributing Moderna," tweeted Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo.

READ: US health officials call for 'pause' of Johnson & Johnson vaccinations

"The Houston Health Department is following the guidance of the CDC and FDA to pause use of Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine out of an abundance of caution as rare adverse reactions are investigated. The department will await guidance on future use of the vaccine," the City of Houston tweeted.

Symptoms to watch for

The Texas Department of State Health Services said it has issued similar guidance to all providers across the state.

"Right now, these adverse events appear to be extremely rare and are being further evaluated to ensure vaccine safety. People who have received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine who develop severe headache, abdominal pain, leg pain or shortness of breath within three weeks after vaccination should contact their health care provider," noted Texas DSHS.

"None of the cases of blood clots reported at this time have occurred in Texas, where more than 500,000 doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine have been administered."

Have a J&J appointment? Watch for guidance, updates from your vaccine provider

If you have an appointment for a J&J shot, you should monitor your phone and email for notifications from your provider. You may also want to reach out to your doctor’s office or clinic if you are scheduled to get the shot at a facility that is not a mass vaccination site.

Some KHOU 11 viewers said early Tuesday their appointments were already canceled with an automated text message just moments after the FDA request.

Investigation into rare reports of blood clots

“COVID19 vaccine safety is a top priority for the federal government, and we take all reports of health problems following COVID-19 vaccination very seriously,” tweeted the FDA.

Federal officials said they are investigating blood clots in six women, ages 18 to 48, in the days after vaccination. More than 6.8 million doses of the J&J vaccine have been administered in the U.S.

U.S. federal distribution channels, including mass vaccination sites, will pause the use of the J&J shot, and states and other providers are expected to follow. Patients can still talk to their doctors and other vaccine providers about getting the J&J vaccine, however.

Watch: Dr. Peter Hotez on Johnson & Johnson vaccine, COVID variants (Jan. 2021 video)

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