Home > News > J&J Vaccine and Blood Clots: The Risks, if Any, Are Very Low

J&J Vaccine and Blood Clots: The Risks, if Any, Are Very Low

Date: April 13, 2021

By Denise Grady and Carl Zimmer, New York Times

On Tuesday morning, U.S. federal health regulators recommended a pause in the use of Johnson & Johnson’s Covid-19 vaccine while they investigated six reports of blood clots in women ages 18 to 48. One has died, and a second is hospitalized in critical condition.

As of Tuesday, 7.2 million people in the United States had received the vaccine without any other serious adverse reactions reported.

Experts have yet to determine to what extent, if any, the vaccine is responsible for the clots. But the investigation follows actions by European regulators who concluded that a vaccine made by AstraZeneca may also be the cause of a similar, extremely rare clotting disorder.

U.S. and European public health experts have emphasized that for most people, the benefits of the Covid vaccines far outweigh the risks.

Several countries in Europe last week restricted use of the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine to older adults because rare cases of a blood disorder were occurring in younger people. The AstraZeneca vaccine has not been authorized in the United States.

Fewer than one in a million J&J vaccinations are now under investigation. If there is indeed a risk of blood clots from the vaccine — which has yet to be determined — that risk is extremely low. The risk of getting Covid-19 in the United States is far higher.

The F.D.A. recommends that people who have received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine within the past three weeks should contact their doctors if they experience severe headaches, abdominal pain, leg pain or shortness of breath. Doctors seeing people with those symptoms, particularly if the patients are young women, should ask if they recently received a Covid vaccination, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the Biden administration’s chief science adviser, said at a news briefing on Tuesday.

People should not be concerned about mild headaches and flu-like symptoms in the first few days after vaccination. Those are common, harmless side effects brought on by the immune system’s production of a defense against the coronavirus.

For people who received the vaccine a month or two ago, the issue being raised about clots “doesn’t mean anything,” Dr. Fauci said. The six cases occurred within a “pretty tight window” of six to 13 days after people received the shot, he said.

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