Do women need to panic after the Johnson & Johnson vaccine announcement?
Not really, according to neurologists we spoke with. Not panic, but there is a reason for the FDA to pause and for women who got the Johnson & Johnson shot to be on the lookout for some things.
The blood clots being reported by a handful of women who got the Johnson & Johnson vaccine affected the brain, so symptoms are not necessarily the leg swelling or pain that we usually hear about. In this case, signs to watch out for include headaches that won’t go away, nausea and vomiting.
- CDC investigating death possibly connected to Johnson & Johnson vaccine
- California, SoCal health officials call for 'pause' of J&J COVID-19 vaccine distribution
Why are women three times as likely to experience the problem? The FDA is studying this, but it seems that hormonal factors come into play.
Women who are pregnant, for example, or menopausal and having hormone treatments are more at risk, especially if they smoke. Certain types of cancers that are treated with hormones can make people more susceptible, and of course, any proclivity for any type of blood clotting or a stroke could be an issue.
With that said, the odds seem to be very small. If six women out of six million doses reported the problem, that’s actually a lower chance than someone in the general population having a blood clot. Still, the FDA is being very cautious.
The Johnson & Johnson vaccine uses the nonactive virus, as opposed to Moderna and Pfizer, which employ the newer MA sequence technology. Those vaccines don’t seem to cause the blood clot issue.
All of these vaccines were approved much quicker than they usually are, to battle the COVID-19 threat. So they did not go through the years of trials that are normally required. This kind of pause, as some side effects show up, is not surprising, and this one may very well not be the last.