J&J Vaccine Risk Low, Pause Only Likely A Few Days, Health Officials Say

Following a controversial decision to ask medical providers for a “pause” in use of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine, due to a risk of rare blood clots, federal health officials indicate they expect to rescind the call for a halt in the vaccine’s use within a matter of days.

Officials with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommended health care officials stop administering the Johnson & Johnson vaccine on Tuesday, after identifying rare reports of blood clots which impacted six women, including one that resulted in death.

All six incidents involved women between the ages of 18 and 48, and a rare type of blood clot called cerebral venous sinus thrombosis (CVST). The blood clots were accompanied with low levels of blood platelet, which makes treating the vaccine blood clots more challenging, as traditional recommendations to administer heparin or another blood thinner may not be best.

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Health experts are still not certain the single-dose COVID-19 vaccine, which has been administered more than seven million times in the U.S. to date, is responsible for the blood clots. However, a similar vaccine by AstraZeneca, which is not yet approved in the U.S., has been linked to similar incidents.

Following the announcement this week, health experts told multiple news outlets the benefits of the vaccine still outweigh the risks. They noted the recommendation to pause the vaccine’s use is not a mandate, and said they expect the pause to be very temporary; potentially only a matter of days.

Today, the CDC is convening a meeting of its Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) to further review the cases and their potential impact on use of the vaccine.

Symptoms in all six cases occurred between one and two weeks after the patients were inoculated, and all were women between the ages of 18 and 48. Symptoms of the blood clots linked to the J&J vaccine may include severe headaches, abdominal pain, leg pain, and shortness of breath.

The agencies urge anyone who experiences the symptoms listed above within three weeks of receiving the vaccine to contact their health care providers. The FDA and CDC are asking health care providers to report any adverse events to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System.

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