Dr. Shah Explains What You Should Do If You Had the J&J Vaccine
The Center for Disease Control recommended Tuesday that a pause be put on the use of the one dose Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine after reports of six cases of a rare and severe type of blood clot in recipients in the United States. That announcement leaves many Mainers who have received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine with questions. Maine CDC Director Dr. Nirav Shah took time during Tuesday's briefing to address some of those questions.
What exactly is it that caused the CDC to put a pause on the use of the J&J vaccine?
Dr. Shah said that the US CDC and the US FDA initiated the pause out of an abundance of caution after six cases of a rare, severe blood clot called a cerebral venous sinus thrombosis (CVST). It was discovered in individuals who received the J&J vaccine and had low levels of platelets after receiving it. All six cases were in women ages 18 to 48 and occurred between 6 and 13 days after they received the J&J vaccine. None of those six cases occurred in Maine.
Why has that CDC recommended the pause?
Dr. Shah said it is to ensure that the health community is aware of the possibility that treating CVST could be dangerous. Blood thinners like heparin might be dangerous and patients might need a different type of treatment. The pause is so that health care providers are ready and able to recognize and properly treat this type of clot.
What should I do if I've already gotten the J&J vaccine?
Dr. Shah said if you got the J&J vaccine in the last couple of days, it's normal that you will feel some flu like symptoms. Pain in your arms, some fatigue, body aches are some of those flu like symptoms. These are normal.
If you are within a window of 6 days to 2 weeks since getting the J&J vaccine and you have symptoms such as a severe headache, what Shah says people have described as "one of the worst headaches of your life," or abnormal pain, shortness of breath or leg pain, contact your healthcare provider.
Shah also noted that these blood clots have not been observed in people who have received the two dose Moderna or Pfizer vaccines and urges everyone to sign up for those vaccines as quickly as you can, despite the J&J vaccine being on pause.