It happened on the northbound side of the road near the turn-off for the A690 at Herrington.
A spokesman for the North East Ambulance Service said that a rapid response vehicle has been sent to the scene with two people needing to be taken to hospital.
The spokesman said later on that person had to be taken to South Tyneside District Hospital.
Northumbria Police said that one lane had to be blocked due to the incident.
The force tweeted: "Police are currently dealing with a multi-vehicle collision A19 Northbound just prior to the A690 turnoff, Houghton Le Spring.
"Lane 2 is currently blocked.
"Lane 1 traffic still moving but very slowly.
"Please avoid the area if possible as there are long tailbacks in the area."
Highways England North East tweeted: "As a result of the collision on the #A19 Northbound, there are delays of approx. 40 minutes."
North East Traffic Live tweeted: "A19 Northbound near A690 Durham Road.
"Five vehicles have collided."