Why Was the Johnson & Johnson Vaccine Paused? What if I Got it Already?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommended a pause in the Johnson & Johnson (Janssen) single-dose COVID-19 vaccine after a handful of patients developed blood clots.
Avera is following this recommendation and will pause administration of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine until more information is available. The South Dakota, Iowa, Minnesota and Nebraska state departments of health have all paused use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
No cases of this issue have been reported in the Avera region, said David Basel, MD, Vice President of Avera Medical Group Quality.
“This is an incredibly rare complication. They are being careful about this, and that’s a good thing,” Basel said. “They want to make sure the vaccine isn’t increasing the rate of this type of blood clot, which affects about five people per million.”
In the meantime, Moderna and Pfizer vaccines remain available.
Here’s what you need to know about this decision.
What is happening?
There were six cases of a rare and severe type of blood clot, called cerebral venous sinus thrombosis, out of more than 6.8 million doses administered, in individuals after receiving the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. These cases were in women, between the ages of 18 to 48 with symptoms appearing six to 13 days after vaccination.
The federal government along with medical experts will now take time to analyze the vaccine data before making any recommendations on it.
What if I already got the vaccine?
People who already got the vaccine need not take any precautions.
“This is extremely rare, about five per million situation that we’re talking about,” Basel said. “It’s highly, highly unlikely we’re going to see any cases in our population who got the vaccine.”
If you received the Janssen vaccine, symptoms of this rare blood clot can include headache, shortness of breath, leg pain or stomach pain two to three weeks after you got the vaccine.
If you experience these symptoms within the common timeframe after the vaccine, call your provider.
I’m signed up to receive a vaccine. Should I still get it?
Yes, other vaccines being distributed are safe and effective. Adverse events appear to be extremely rare. Millions of people have received the vaccines. If the majority of people are vaccinated, we will see fewer deaths and hospitalizations from COVID-19, and it is our path to end this pandemic.
“I’m actually hopeful that this will help if people are hesitant about the vaccine,” Basel said. “I think the fear is that we would dust things under the carpet if adverse effects were showing up. This is something that’s a one in a million chance and we’re still being very cautious. I hope that gives people confidence that these types of concerns are being taken seriously.”
If you were scheduled to get the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, you may be rescheduled to get the Pfizer or Moderna option. Common side effects of these vaccines include headache, fatigue, injection site soreness and mild fever, which are all common signs that show a vaccine is working to help you build immunity.
Get more information about locations where you can get the COVID-19 vaccine.