Doctors Answer Questions About Johnson And Johnson Vaccine Pause

KDKA's Dr. Maria Simbra has more on the pause and what it means for you if you got the J&J vaccine.

Video Transcript

- The number of concerning cases among the millions who have had the J&J vaccine is tiny.

- Yeah. But as you can imagine, people still have questions. So KDK's Dr. Maria Simbra has some answers now.

MARC ITSKOWITZ: Our office has already received more than half-a-dozen calls this morning from patients who received the J&J vaccine.

MARIA SIMBRA: The CDC and the FDA have paused immunization with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine because of six cases of a rare clotting syndrome in women ages 18 to 48 within two weeks of their shot.

MARC ITSKOWITZ: Only six cases out of 6.8 million doses. On the other hand, if, you know, you're one of those unfortunate patients who has symptoms after receiving this vaccine, I can understand why they, you know, might be concerned.

- Of the clot being in the United States, one case was fatal and one patient is in critical condition.

MARIA SIMBRA: The clots can happen in the brain, the abdomen, the leg. Far to be related to an overactive immune response to the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. The unusual feature here is that levels of certain blood cells, called platelets, is low.

MARC ITSKOWITZ: It appears to be occurring primarily in younger women, in which the immune system we know is typically more robust and more aggressive in creating these antibodies.

ANNE SCHEUCHET: For people who got the vaccine more than a month ago, the risk is very low at this time.

MARIA SIMBRA: If you got the J&J in the last couple of weeks, watch for symptoms.

ANNE SCHEUCHET: Severe headache, abdominal pain, leg pain, or shortness of breath, you should contact your health care provider and seek medical treatment.

MARIA SIMBRA: Treating with a standard anticoagulant called heparin makes it worse. So doctors must use alternatives. Doctor Itskowitz has been busy reassuring concerned patients.

MARC ITSKOWITZ: Just because they receive the J&J vaccine is not a cause for concern. What we're telling them is to let us know if they're developing any unusual symptoms, especially within 13 days or 14 days of having received the vaccine. As long as we can provide enough supply of the other two vaccines, it really makes sense to encourage those vaccines at this time.

ANNE SCHEUCHET: We have not detected this type of syndrome with the low platelets among the other vaccines.

MARIA SIMBRA: The CDC's vaccine advisory panel is meeting tomorrow to discuss whether to restrict the Johnson & Johnson vaccine to certain groups, such as men over 50, or whether to halt the use in favor of Pfizer and Moderna. I'm Dr. Maria Simbra. KDKA news.