CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — The CDC and FDA have recommended a pause be put on administering the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine. This comes after six people were found to have blood clots in the brain following vaccination.
“It’s a concerning development, but as you can see, less than or about one case per million doses administered so far,” said Dr. Jaime Fergie, Director of Infectious Diseases at Driscoll Children's Hospital.
The clots happened between 6 and 13 days after they were vaccinated. All six were women between the ages of 18 and 48. One person has died while another is in critical condition.
So, what should you be looking out for if you received a Johnson & Johnson vaccine?
Fergie said speech and movement may be hindered with a blood clot in the brain. You should look out for severe headaches, abdominal pain, leg pain or shortness of breath. Keep in mind, it is common to have those flu-like symptoms within days of being vaccinated.
Around 6.8 million Johnson & Johnson doses have been administered across the country. The six people who experienced these rare side effects make up roughly .00008 percent of those with this vaccine.
“I think people should be comfortable realizing the system that we have in place are working," Fergie said. "The system to detect very rare side effects are working.”
Fergie recommends monitoring yourself a few weeks after receiving the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. But those that had it a month ago or later are at a very low risk.
“In the United States we have ordered vaccines," said Fergie. "And right now we’re in a situation in which, in our community, we have plenty of vaccine. And actually, we’re asking people come and be vaccinated. So, if we’re not going to be giving the Johnson and Johnson vaccine for the time being until this is clear, we still have a lot of other vaccine.”
Fergie said while this is a concerning pause, there’s still a very low risk of this side effect. The drug will need to be looked at, see if there are more cases and if these six women had something in common.
He suggests this could be temporary and down the line this vaccine may be excluded for a certain group of people that may have an increased risk, if discovered.
“My message is very clear," said Fergie. "People should still be vaccinated. We have had more than 550,000 deaths in the United States. We have more than 30 million people sick with this, many hospitalizations, intensive care, mechanical ventilation. So, the advantage of being vaccinated is overwhelming over any concern.”
Johnson & Johnson's rare blood clot in the brain is similar to blood clots discovered in European patients. It’s believed there’s a possible link to those blood clots and the Astrazeneca vaccine. Fergie said that will need to be examined as well.
Vaccine clinics are continuing in the Coastal Bend with Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. They remain free to anyone who wants one.