US CORONAVIRUS NEWS

J&J vaccine side effect: how many people have notified of blood clots in US?

FDA halts the rollout of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine at federal sites due to blood clot concerns, and urges individual states to do likewise.

J&J vaccine side effect: how many people have notified of blood clots in US?
JUSTIN TALLIS AFP

On Tuesday morning US federal health agencies called for an immediate pause in use of Johnson & Johnson's single-dose covid-19 vaccine. This came following six US recipients developing a rare disorder involving blood clots.

J&J covid-19 vaccine halt

According to the initial report the six recipients were women between the ages of 18 and 48. One woman died and a second woman in Nebraska has been hospitalised in critical condition.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said on Tuesday that they were investigating clots in six women that occurred between six to 13 days after they had the vaccination administered. The clots had been observed in the sinuses of the brain along with reduced platelet counts, thus making the use ot heparin to thin the blood, the usual treatment for blood clots, potentially dangerous.

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Mass vaccination sites used as part of the federal rollout will halt their use of the J&J drug but they will continue with the other two authorised vaccines from Moderna and Pfizer, both of which have made up the bulk of the shots administered to date.

On Wednesday CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices will meet to discuss these latest cases, while an investigation into the cause of the clots and low platelet counts is being launched by the FDA. In a joint statement Dr Anne Schuchat, principal deputy director of the CDC, and Dr Peter Marks, director of the FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, said:

“Until that process is complete, we are recommending a pause in the use of this vaccine out of an abundance of caution.”

J&J response

On the back of the news going public, Johnson & Johnson issued a statement:

“We are aware that thromboembolic events including those with thrombocytopenia have been reported with covid-19 vaccines.”

“At present, no clear causal relationship has been established between these rare events and the Janssen covid-19 vaccine.”

What to do if you have had the J&J vaccine

The current recommendation is that if you have already received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine and within three weeks of the shot you experience either severe headaches, abdominal pains, leg pain, or shortness of breath, then you should contact your local doctor.

The move from the US regulators comes less than a week after Europe's drug regulator said it was reviewing rare blood clots in four people in the United States who received the shot. The vast majority of the 6.8 million doses of the J&J vaccine have shown no either no side effects or simply mild reactions.

It is also worth noting that amid the sensational headlines, the European Medicines Agency has already highlighted that the benefits of receiving the vaccine outweigh the risks for the majority of people. That said, some countries have imposed age limits for certain shots, including the United Kingdom, which offers alternatives to those under 30.