What to know about the J&J vaccine pause

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This Dec. 2, 2020 photo provided by Johnson & Johnson shows vials of the COVID-19 vaccine in the United States. The nation is poised to get a third vaccine against COVID-19, but health officials are concerned that at first glance the Johnson & Johnson shot may not be seen as equal to other options from Pfizer and Moderna. (Johnson & Johnson via AP)

(Baptist Health) – The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have called for a temporary pause in the use of the Johnson & Johnson (J&J) COVID-19 vaccine.

Experts from the agencies said that’s being done “out of an abundance of caution” while they look into reports that six women developed a rare type of blood clot after they got the J&J vaccine.

Here’s what else you should know about the clots and the next steps for this vaccine:

It’s an extremely rare event

Experts stressed that the reports of blood clots appear to be extremely rare. So far, nearly 7 million people in the U.S. have been vaccinated with the J&J vaccine. Of those, six people reported developing severe blood clots. These illnesses occurred among women ages 18 to 48, between 6 and 13 days after their vaccinations. One woman died.

We don’t know enough yet to say whether the vaccine played a role in those cases. But experts are investigating that possibility. One theory suggests some patients may have an unusual immune response that causes low levels of blood platelets.

The next steps

A CDC expert committee is looking further into the reports. FDA and CDC will issue more updates to the public about the use of the J&J vaccine in the days ahead.

Meantime, CDC and FDA said putting the J&J vaccine on hold also gives them time to alert healthcare providers about the possible link so they can recognize and treat any rare clots properly. These clots should not be treated with the usual blood-thinning drugs.

What you can do

Again, experts say your chances of having a blood clot after getting the J&J vaccine are extremely low. That’s especially true if you got the vaccine more than a month ago.

As a precaution, it’s a good idea to watch for these possible symptoms of a blood clot if you received the J&J vaccine within the past three weeks:

  • Severe headache.
  • Backache.
  • New neurologic symptoms.
  • Severe abdominal pain.
  • Shortness of breath.
  • Leg swelling.
  • Tiny red spots on the skin.
  • New or easy bruising.

If you have any of these signs or symptoms, call your doctor.

CDC and FDA experts note that these are not the same as the mild, flulike side effects that many people get a few days after a COVID-19 vaccine.

If you have a scheduled J&J shot coming up, talk to your vaccine provider about making a new appointment to receive a different vaccine.

The Moderna and Pfizer vaccines are safe

As CDC and FDA continue to look into these rare events, it’s important to remember that COVID-19 vaccines are very safe overall and highly effective. They offer our best way out of the pandemic.

This type of blood clot has not been seen in any of the millions of people who have received the Moderna or Pfizer vaccines. If you have an appointment to get either of those vaccines, you should keep it, experts said.

Want to get more facts about COVID-19 vaccines? Check out our Coronavirus health topic center.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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