Doctor advises Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine recipients not to panic

Published: Apr. 13, 2021 at 7:28 PM EDT
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FLINT, Mich. (WJRT) - Dr. Son Phung of the Genesee Community Health Center supports Tuesday’s federal recommendation to pause use of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine.

But Phung also is reminding folks that the vaccine is still very safe and effective, so there’s no reason to panic. Anyone who received the vaccine more than two weeks ago should be entirely in the clear.

The recommendation to pause use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine came from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Food and Drug Administration.

Six women ages 18 to 48 reported cases of cerebral venous sinus thrombosis, which is an extremely rare blood clot disorder in the brain, days after the received the vaccine.

“I don’t think there should be any reason to be in a panic right now simply because the vaccine is on hold for further investigation,” Phung said. “The current vaccines Pfizer and Moderna remain very safe.”

Like thousands of medications and other vaccines, nothing is fool proof. There are risks and side effects. The blood clot issue appears to be extreme rare with only six cases reported out of about 7 million doses of Johnson & Johnson vaccine administered so far in the U.S.

“In Europe, with AstraZeneca, they have already vaccinated 30 million individuals and there’s only 150 plus persons with the blood clot side effect,” Phung said.

To err on the side of caution, Phung said people with a history of blood clots, who take medication that may cause clotting or don’t live healthy lifestyles may want to talk with their doctor about whether they receive the Johnson & Johnson vaccine when it can be administered again.

“Remember, we are in this boat together and the vaccine’s been approved by the FDA under the emergency measure,” Phung said.

The CDC and FDA are expected to meet Wednesday to further investigate the rare blood clot cases and discuss what comes next. Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top disease doctor, said he expects the vaccine pause will likely last “days to weeks” and not “weeks to months.”

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