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Janssen COVID-19 Vaccine Blood Clot Update

Not surprisingly, there have been some updates on the issue of the Janssen COVID-19 possibly being associated with blood clots.

One of the biggest is that ACIP had another emergency meeting to further discuss the issue!

Janssen COVID-19 Vaccine Blood Clot Update

What else have we learned since it was first announced that a safety signal discovered the six people had developed blood clots and thrombocytopenia after getting their Janssen COVID-19 vaccine?

There were relatively few new cases of blood clots.

Wait, why would you get additional cases of blood clots if vaccination with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine had been paused?

That’s easy.

Remember that initial blood clots had reported 6 to 13 days after vaccination, so after the pause on April 13, there was a concern that more cases would be found. This would include most of the doses given in April.

Data from the majority of Janssen doses were given in April and weren't available at the time of the pause.
Data from the majority of Janssen doses were given in April and weren’t available at the time of the pause.

So that there haven’t too many new cases once they reviewed the data from everyone who got a dose is good news.

Reporting rates of blood clots after Janssen COVID-19 vaccine.
Three of these cases were fatal.

All together, they found 15 cases of these blood clots (cerebral venous sinus thrombosis or CVST), with 13 clustered among women between the ages of 18 to 49 years. Among these clusters, the rate of blood clots is about 7 per million people.

For everyone else, the risk is less than one per million doses.

So why continue to use a vaccine that has extra risk when we have other COVID-19 vaccines that don’t have this risk?

Some people prefer the Janssen vaccine, as it is only one dose.

Others, especially those with a severe PEG allergy, might not be able to get an mRNA vaccine.

And in general, the benefit of the getting vaccinated and protected against COVID-19, which is life-threatening, even among 18-50 year olds, outweighs the risk of the vaccine.

“COVID-19—the actual disease—poses 8 to 10 times the threat of blood clots in the brain than do coronavirus vaccines, a large, non–peer-reviewed study led by University of Oxford researchers finds.”

Study: COVID much more likely than vaccines to cause blood clots

That’s especially true when you consider that COVID-19 disease can cause blood clots!

“Patients younger than 30 years accounted for 30% of coronavirus-related CVT.”

Study: COVID much more likely than vaccines to cause blood clots

And COVID-19 causes blood clots in younger people who you wouldn’t expect to be at risk for severe disease.

Which is why ACIP voted to reaffirm recommendations to use the Janssen COVID-19 vaccine for all ages and sex, knowing the FDA will be adding a warning statement to the EUA.

This warning about blood clots has been added to the Janssen COVID-19 vaccine fact sheet.
This warning about blood clots has been added to the Janssen COVID-19 vaccine fact sheet.

Does that mean that everyone should just get the Janssen vaccine? After all, the pause has been lifted.

“Following a thorough safety review, including two meetings of the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have determined that the recommended pause regarding the use of the Johnson & Johnson (Janssen) COVID-19 Vaccine in the U.S. should be lifted and use of the vaccine should resume.”

FDA and CDC Lift Recommended Pause on Johnson & Johnson (Janssen) COVID-19 Vaccine Use Following Thorough Safety Review

It means, that like with any vaccine, folks should understand the risks and benefits and make a decision that is best for them.

In the case of the Janssen COVID-19 vaccine, if you are in a higher risk group (18 to 50 year old women), you should understand that there may be a very small risk for blood clots after getting vaccinated, a risk that does not seem to be associated with the other COVID-19 vaccines that require two doses.

“It is important for all Pennsylvanians to remember they have a choice as to which of the three safe and effective vaccines they receive.”

Department of Health: Resume Use of Johnson & Johnson Vaccine Following FDA/CDC Recommendation

And if the Janssen COVID-19 vaccine is the only vaccine that is available to you and you decide to skip or delay getting vaccinated because you are concerned about blood clots, you should also consider the risk of getting COVID-19, which again, is a life-threatening disease that can cause blood clots.

More on Blood Clots and COVID-19 Vaccines

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