Johnson & Johnson Vaccine Pause: What to Know If You Got or Scheduled the Vaccine

The launch of the COVID-19 vaccine in recent months has left people with many questions, and the latest concerns about Johnson & Johnson’s single-dose vaccine have likely given people even more.

Background: The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a joint statement Tuesday morning, recommending a temporary halt in JNJ vaccine distribution, -1.56% COVID-19 from Johnson & Johnson. while examining six serious cases of rare blood clots that have been reported in people who have received the injection. Health officials called for this short-term strike as a “precaution,” they said, emphasizing that these blood clots were “extremely rare” and have only occurred in fewer than one in a million vaccinated people. Specifically, only six cases of these rare blood clots have been reported among the 6.8 million Americans who have received the J&J single-dose vaccine. But the CDC wants to make sure that healthcare providers are prepared to treat blood clots if they do occur. Read More: US Recommends Stopping Use of J & J’s COVID-19 Vaccine After Reports of Rare Blood Clots. What happened? In these six cases, all of them women, a type of blood clot called cerebral venous sinus thrombosis (CVST) was seen in combination with low levels of platelets in the blood (also known as thrombocytopenia). One person remains in critical condition and another died. Dr. Reynold Panettieri, a pulmonary physician and professor of medicine at Rutgers University, explained to MarketWatch that a CVST manifests as a stroke. “Blood clots form in the veins that drain from the brain, and that backs things up and causes bleeding in the brain,” he said. They are rare, occur in five out of a million people each year, and can be caused by certain cancers or sickle cell disease. The six recorded cases of CVST and low blood platelet levels among J&J vaccine recipients involved women between the ages of 18 and 48, with symptoms presenting six to 13 days after vaccination. But health officials noted that the number of these cases is so small that they cannot yet generalize whether this is something that women of a certain age or other demographic groups might be at higher risk of developing. That’s why the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, which recommends the use of vaccines after authorization from the Food and Drug Administration, will meet Wednesday to review the cases. Coronavirus update: US COVID vaccine program faces setback with J&J jab as experts say there is no cause for alarm. early. But there is no need to panic; just pay attention to if you have symptoms such as a severe headache, abdominal pain, leg pain, or shortness of breath. If so, seek medical attention. So here’s what we know about these J&J cases so far, what symptoms people should look out for, and what to do regarding upcoming J&J vaccine appointments. Please note that this information is subject to change as we learn more, so these guidelines will be updated as health officials update their recommendations. I already received my injection from J&J. What should I consider? The CDC and FDA say that if you suffer from a severe headache, feel abdominal pain or leg pain, or begin to experience shortness of breath within three weeks of the J&J vaccination, you should seek medical attention or speak with your healthcare provider. These symptoms of blood clots should not be confused with flu-like symptoms (fever, body aches, chills, fatigue, and nausea) or swollen lymph nodes under the arms and near the collarbone, which can be a normal response to the appearance of COVID. J&J, Pfizer PFE, + 0.28% or Moderna MRNA, + 6.26% vaccines. It should be noted that blood clot events generally occurred approximately one week after the J&J vaccination, and no more than three weeks after vaccination, with a median of approximately nine days. So if it’s been almost a month since you received your injection, then you should be free. I am scheduled to receive my J&J injection. Should I cancel my appointment or get the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine instead? You don’t need to rush to cancel your appointment, although your vaccination status or location may already be canceling or rescheduling J&J appointments for now while the recommended break is in effect. Retailers and pharmacies like Walgreens, Rite Aid RAD, -5.02%, CVS CVS, -0.36%, and Wegmans have canceled their J&J appointments for the time being, for example. Or some states, including New York and Texas, will switch to give people scheduled to receive the J&J injection one of the other COVID vaccines available from Pfizer and Moderna. Check with your local health department or vaccination site for guidance. And the pause “will not have a significant impact” on the White House vaccination plan, according to Jeff Zients, the White House COVID-19 response coordinator. Also, doctors and vaccination sites can still give you the J&J vaccine. “This is a recommendation and not a mandate. It’s a precaution, ”Dr. Peter Marks, director of the FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, said at a news conference Tuesday. “If an individual healthcare provider has a conversation with an individual patient and determined that the risk of benefit to that individual patient is appropriate, we are not going to prevent that provider from administering the vaccine.” Keep in mind that tens of millions of people have already received the J&J vaccine without this serious side effect. “We have to put this in context,” Panettieri said. “It is very important to realize that millions of people have received the Johnson & Johnson vaccines and have reaped the benefits of the vaccine. This is an incredibly rare and rare event. You are more likely to contract COVID-19 and have a severe COVID infection [if you don’t get vaccinated] than to get this complication from the vaccine. “Who is most at risk of developing this rare blood clot / low platelet reaction from the J&J vaccine? There are still too few cases to make concrete connections.” It is difficult to make generalizations from the review of six. We’re going to have our expert committee look it over carefully, “said Dr. Anne Schuchat, CDC’s senior deputy director, during a news conference Tuesday. make it difficult to generalize, but large enough that we would want to take action with the pause. “However, a few things the cases have in common so far: All six involved women between the ages of 18 and 48, who developed clots within six to 13 days after the J&J injection. But it is too early to say that women of a certain age are at higher risk than anyone else. But again: these blood clots are still extremely rare and it is not entirely clear if the vaccine caused these clots. Using oral contraceptive pills and smoking cigarettes can also increase the risk of blood clots. “The likelihood that you have a CVST could be due to many, many more factors that people are exposed to other than this vaccine,” Panettieri said. And remember, this type of thrombosis occurs in five out of a million people anyway. So when you start vaccinating millions and millions of people, you will get some people who would have developed this anyway. “How long will J&J be on hold? What happens next? Dr. Janet Woodcock, Commissioner Acting FDA, said this hiatus should only last “a matter of days” during a news conference Tuesday morning. This could change depending on “what we learn in the next few days,” it noted. The Advisory Committee on CDC Immunization Practices will be holding an emergency meeting on Wednesday from 1:30 to 4:30 pm ET to review cases, and this meeting will be open to the public. Click here for more details on how to tune in. – No registration required. Bottom line: If you’ve received the J&J vaccine, watch out for symptoms of this rare blood clot, including severe headache, abdominal or leg pain, and shortness of breath within three weeks after injection. But these blood clots are so rare – they occur in fewer than one in a million people who have received their J&J injections – that there is no need to panic or rush to cancel an upcoming J&J vaccination appointment. However, your vaccination center or local health department may be rescheduling appointments or swapping J&J vaccines for other vaccines, so check with your vaccination center to see how this could affect your future appointment. “The takeaway message here is that the most important thing people can do is get vaccinated,” Panettieri said. “Not getting vaccinated would put you at such a higher risk of death from COVID, or serious risk from COVID, that you wouldn’t be concerned about these isolated and very rare cases of blood clots.”