Here’s what to do if you’ve already received your Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine, health officials say

What to do if you’ve already received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine

“We know this is very concerning for Americans who already received Johnson & Johnson vaccine,” said Dr. Anne Schuchat, principal deputy director with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “While these events are very rare, we’re recommending a pause in the use of the Johnson & Johnson in order to prepare the health care system to recognize and treat patients appropriately.”

Why is this decision significant since this is six reported clotting cases out of the nearly 7 million doses administered so far?

Dr. Peter Marks, director of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, said during a virtual news conference with the CDC and FDA Tuesday that potential and very rare blood clotting occurrences need to be treated on an individual basis, not with established blood clotting treatments.

“Treatment of this is different from other treatments. Alternative treatments need to be given. One can actually cause tremendous harm, or the outcome can be fatal,” Marks said. “The FDA will revise fact sheets for health care providers/caregivers to include this adverse event info to ensure health care providers are able to make appropriate benefit risk determinations for their patients. Right now these events appear to be extremely rare.”

The six reported cases reported low levels of platelets in the blood in women who presented with symptoms between six and 13 days after the vaccine.

Marks said that if someone contacts their health care provider with any of the reported symptoms, the provider should inquire whether they’ve recently been vaccinated.

Do the clotting cases seem to have impacted a specific demographic of people?

“There are too few cases for us to make that determination for this particular vaccine,” Schuchat said.

What if I’ve already received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine?

“For people who got the vaccine more than a month ago, the risk for them is very low at this time,” Schuchat said. “For people who recently got the vaccine in the last couple weeks, they should be aware to look for any symptoms. If you received the vaccine and develop severe headache, abdominal pain, leg pain or shortness of breath within three weeks, you should contact your health care provider and seek medical treatment.”

What symptoms should I look out for?

“These symptoms are different from the mild flu-like symptoms fever and so forth that many people experience in the couple days after receiving the vaccine,” Schuchat said. “Importantly, there are three vaccines available, and we are not seeing these clotting events with low platelet counts with the other two vaccines.”

What about Moderna and Pfizer?

“People who have vaccine appointments with the other two vaccines should continue with their appointments,” Schuchat said. “Our partners will be working to reschedule people who have the Johnson & Johnson vaccine appointments in the days ahead. This may be a bit bumpy. We want to make sure we’re getting the word out, but we do want to make sure people are scheduled get the vaccinations. We’re committed to following the science and ensuring transparency. We’re going to tell you what we know when we know it and what you can do to protect yourself.