Women who received Johnson and Johnson vaccine concerned over 'extremely rare' blood clotting cases

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ByKate Larsen KGO logo
Wednesday, April 14, 2021
Women express concern after J&J vaccine put on hold in US
California is following the advice of the FDA and the CDC to stop administering the single-dose Johnson and Johnson vaccine after six women developed a rare blood clot disorder.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- California is following the advice of the FDA and the CDC to stop administering the single-dose Johnson and Johnson vaccine. Of 6.8 million patients who received the shot, six women developed a rare blood clot disorder.

Many women who recently received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine are now worried about their health.

"A little concerned just because blood clots are really concerning especially as a woman," said 28-year-old Los Angeles resident, Ariana Woods.

She just got the Johnson and Johnson vaccine six days ago.

RELATED: California orders pause of Johnson & Johnson vaccine on US recommendation

"You hear all these medical advisors saying it's safe, take whatever one you can, and then having news come out of nowhere is a little concerning," said Woods.

Federal health agencies paused the J&J vaccine Tuesday after six women, aged 18 to 48, developed a rare blood clot disorder six to 13 days after receiving the shot. One patient died.

"I feel like if I were going to have any negative effects, I would have had them already," said 33-year-old Oakland resident, Samantha Floyd, who got the J&J vaccine almost a month ago with her parents and two sisters.

The FDA says most reactions happen within the first three weeks.

RELATED: FDA, CDC call for 'pause' on Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine after blood clot reports

"I know six people had these adverse reactions, but I personally am feeling fine, my family is feeling fine. I'm not worried about me, my health right now," said Floyd.

"It's really younger women that seem to be at highest risk and there are other risks in that age group. For example, that's when autoimmune diseases start to appear, that's when birth control pills are being used, so there may be other factors involved," said Stanford's Dr. Yvonne Maldonado, who is a liaison for the CDC's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP).

The ACIP is holding an emergency meeting Wednesday to go over the J&J data.

"We need to be very open and transparent about the investigation, and make sure there's no specific link to the vaccine," said Maldonado.

RELATED: AstraZeneca, Pfizer, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson: Breaking down the differences between coronavirus vaccines

Dr. Maldonado says there are several possible outcomes from the ACIP meeting.

"Tomorrow the ACIP will decide whether or not to continue to use the Johnson and Johnson vaccine for everybody, or to continue to use the Johnson and Johnson vaccine for certain people that is excluding people who might be at high risk, or whether they think the vaccine should not be used at all," said Maldonado.

"Clearly the benefits far outweigh the risk. We're talking about a one out of a million chance of getting a rare side effect," said Dr. Philip Grant, who was the principal investigator for Stanford's phase three Johnson & Johnson trial.

None of his volunteers had an adverse reaction. But he says taking a few days to pause and investigate shows the monitoring system is working.

"The number one priority is to have is to have the public having confidence in the process," said Grant.

For Woods, she's more grateful than concerned that she got the vaccine. "Chances are low, hopefully people stay safe and then it can be rolled out again soon," he said.

The AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine has not been FDA authorized in the United States. AstraZeneca rollout has been paused in many countries around the world after clotting issues were discovered in vaccine recipients.

Dr. Grant points out that according to European data one in 200,000 people who received the AZ vaccine, later had a clotting disorder. Whereas U.S. data shows that one in a million people who received the J&J vaccine ended up had a clotting disorder.

RELATED: Canada pauses AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine for people under 55

"People have speculated that maybe the immune response to the vaccine makes a platelet slightly more sticky," said Dr. Grant, who does not believe the problem is with the AstraZeneca and J&J platforms, which are similar. "Because your body's reacting to the spike protein. So it just may be the part of the spike protein that's being targeted in these different vaccines that may lead to slightly different clotting risks. But it's also true that getting Coronavirus increases your risk of clotting substantially."

And while the clotting disorder is rare, the FDA says people who recently received the J&J vaccine can look out for severe headaches, abdominal pain, leg pain and/or shortness of breath. Doctors say to seek medical treatment if you have any of those symptoms and that's it's important to tell your provider that you were recently vaccinated, because that changes the treatment options.

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