A number of rare and severe blood clots have been reported after receiving the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine. In response to this, the CDC and FDA have decided to recommend a pause in the administration of the vaccine. 7 million doses have been administered in total, and all of the reported blood clot side effects occurred in women between the ages of 18 and 48 with symptoms occurring around 6-13 days after being vaccinated.
One is in critical condition and another, a 45-year-old woman from Virgina, has died. Johnson & Johnson have stated that they will “proactively delay the rollout” of the vaccine in Europe and they will also pause the COVID-19 vaccine trials occurring as they “update guidance for investigators and participants.”
As a safety measure to reassess the safety of the vaccine, the vaccine will be discontinued until more research has been done to see if this side effect has been caused by the vaccine with certainty; however, states will make the decision on what to do with vaccines that have already been allocated to them. If you received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine and received any of the following symptoms, please seek medical attention:
- Severe headache
- New neurologic symptoms
- Severe abdominal pain
- Shortness of breath
- Leg swelling
- Tiny red spots on the skin (petechiae)
- New or easy bruising
While these events are extremely rare, it is still important to take caution and notice of any abnormal symptoms you may have in order to catch it early. If you already scheduled an appointment to receive this vaccine, talk with your healthcare provider to help you reschedule an appointment with a different vaccine.
Dr. Carlos del Rio, an executive associate dean at the Emory University School of Medicine at Grady Health System, stated “It’s a very rare event. You’re talking about 1 per million, and when you give millions of doses of vaccines, you will see events like this that you couldn’t see in the clinical trial just because you didn’t have millions of people enrolled,” in regards to these events. He also stated that the reason behind this clotting may stem from the fact that it is an adenovirus vector vaccine, this is the same type as the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine.
The European Medicines Agency reported recently that the AstraZeneca vaccine symptom of unusual blood clots with low blood platelets should be listed as a rare symptom; researchers are still searching for the mechanism behind this reaction. The doctors studying in the states have stated the same thing, calling these blood clots a vaccine-induced immune thrombotic thrombocytopenia (VITT).
The usual treatment for a condition such as this one is not recommended, as it can actually cause more danger. They should not be given heparin, which is commonly given for blood clots, and instead should be given other anti-clotting drugs and infusions of intravenous immunoglobulin to replace the depleted platelets.
Experts still say that getting the vaccine, even with the possibility of this rare side effect, is still worth getting vaccinated but regardless the vaccine will be pulled and tested again.