Hospital of Central Connecticut
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have lifted the pause that was put on the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine on April 13. Distribution of the vaccine was halted after extremely rare blood clotting in women under the age of 50 was reported.
“The one thing that people really need to remember about the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is that the benefits of the vaccine outweigh any potential risks when we compare it to COVID-19, which could potentially be deadly,” said Virginia Bieluch, MD, Chief of Infectious Diseases at The Hospital of Central Connecticut (HOCC).
Up until the pause of the vaccine, more than seven million doses of J&J were administered. From that number, fifteen cases of blood clotting were reported.
“One thing to help reassure the public and give them confidence is how quickly this side effect was identified, which is why it’s important for people to report their side effects. The side effects were reported, there was a pause, an evaluation, and recommendations were made. The safeguards that are in place worked the way they’re supposed to,” Dr. Bieluch explained. To report a possible side effect from any of the COVID-19 vaccines, you can visit the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) website.
Dr. Bieluch says that regulatory agencies have publicized the signs and symptoms of the rare clotting and have also briefed healthcare workers on how to recognize and manage the potential side effect.
According to the CDC, for the first three weeks after receiving the J&J vaccine, women should seek medical attention if they experience any of the following:
• Severe or persistent headaches or blurred vision
• Shortness of breath
• Chest pain
• Leg swelling
• Persistent abdominal pain
• Easy bruising or tiny blood spots under the skin beyond the injection site
“This has been a very important vaccine in terms of reaching some hard to reach populations because you give one shot and the person is protected. It’s been a valuable resource,” Bieluch said.
Hartford HealthCare continues to offer vaccinations at One Liberty Square in New Britain and at sites across Connecticut. As of April 30, those sites are now open to walk-ins. Dr. Bieluch encourages people to consider getting vaccinated if they haven’t already.
“My advice would be to get whatever vaccine you can. If you’re a young woman and you have a choice you may feel more comfortable going to the Moderna or Pfizer vaccine, but the benefits of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine outweigh the known and potential risks so it should still be an option for anybody,” said Bieluch.
Dr. Virginia Bieluch is the Chief of Infectious Diseases at The Hospital of Central Connecticut. For more information about vaccine locations across Hartford HealthCare, visit https://hartfordhealthcare.org/health-wellness/covid-vaccine/locations