Health officials are urging Americans not to panic over news the Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a recommendation Tuesday for states to pause vaccinations with the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine due to blood clots.
The agencies said they’re reviewing six reported cases out of nearly 7 million vaccines administered in the U.S., which makes these blood clots an “extremely rare” occurrence.
“This is a really rare event … It’s six out of the 6.85 million doses, which is less than one in a million,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s leading infectious disease expert, said during a White House briefing Tuesday.
All six reports came from women between the ages of 18 and 48, with symptoms occurring six to 13 days after vaccination, health officials said. One woman died and one was hospitalized in critical condition.
The CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization (ACIP) will hold a meeting Wednesday to analyze the cases. The FDA said it will review the committee’s analysis during its investigation, as states paused administering the one-dose J&J vaccine. Acting FDA commissioner Dr. Janet Woodcock said the halt could last “a matter of days.”
In the meantime, people who got the vaccine within the last three weeks should monitor for symptoms, including a severe headache, abdominal pain, leg pain or shortness of breath, and should seek medical care if these symptoms develop. Health experts say people who have been vaccinated longer than three weeks ago are in the clear.
“You’re OK,” Fauci said. “If you look at the time frame when this occurs, it’s pretty tight, from a few days to six to 13 days from the time of vaccination.”
He said symptoms from these types of blood clots are pretty noticeable, so Americans shouldn’t work themselves up questioning whether they may be experiencing them or not.
“Obviously, if you have something as serious as seizure, that’s pretty clear,” he said.
While the chances of developing a blood clot associated with the J&J vaccine may be less than one in a million, some studies have shown the chances of developing a blood clot from COVID-19 could be as high as 31% for critically ill coronavirus patients in intensive care.
Health experts hope the pause of J&J’s vaccine doesn’t contribute to vaccine hesitancy. They urge Americans to continue to get vaccinated with the other two vaccines authorized in the U.S., Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna.
“Don’t panic is right,” said Dr. Kelly Moore, deputy director of nonprofit Immunization Action Coalition. “Remember the disease this vaccine prevents is a major killer. We need to understand this better, so clinicians and the public understand how to weigh risks and benefits going forward.”
Fauci reiterated there still has been no red flags associated with the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, which use a different technology than the J&J vaccine.
Contributing: Elizabeth Weise, USA TODAY. Follow Adrianna Rodriguez on Twitter: @AdriannaUSAT.
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