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What you need to know about the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine pause: 2 Wants to Know

A Cone Health expert answers questions about the Johnson & Johnson vaccine pause, and what people can do if they received the shot already

GREENSBORO, N.C. — The Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine is still on pause in the U.S. pending a CDC and FDA investigation after cases of rare blood clots were reported. The CDC is scheduled to meet on Friday to reveal their investigation results. The FDA will then make a decision about the vaccine pause.

Cone Health Chief Pharmacy Officer Dr. DeAnne Brooks answers questions about the pause and what could come from the investigation. 

Why was the Johnson & Johnson vaccine paused? 

The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is on pause in the U.S. after 6 rare cases of blood clots were found in women after receiving the vaccine. One woman died. Health officials stress this is a rare side effect. Nearly 6.8 million Americans have already received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

How rare was this reaction?  

People are more likely to get struck by lightning. However, it's still a side effect to be aware of in case someone needs treatment. 

If you already received the J&J vaccine – should you be concerned? What symptoms should you look for?  How long after vaccination could the reaction occur? 

If you develop a severe headache, shortness of breath, severe abdominal or leg pain you need to seek treatment immediately. These symptoms would show up within the first three weeks of getting the vaccine.

How are these symptoms different from normal vaccine side effects/reactions?  

The typical side effects are fatigue, soreness in the arm after the shot, and a headache.

Could this reaction occur with the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines? 

We have not seen that happen. They are different vaccines in terms of the technology as to how they were created. Pfizer and Moderna's vaccines are mRNA vaccines. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is an adenovaccine.

Some people may be even more hesitant to get a COVID-19 vaccine now. What would you tell people who may be considering not getting the vaccine?    

The system is working. The way health officials are responding to this is exactly what should be happening. There was an effect that was found that was unusual and there was a response to it. 

After the CDC and FDA investigation, if the results show the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is safe should people feel comfortable getting this vaccine option?  

Yes. Dr. DeAnne Brooks said she would recommend to friends and family they can comfortably get the vaccine after the CDC and FDA conclude their investigation and pending their results.