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UNC Health is following the FDA’s recommendation to resume use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

The Food and Drug Administration has lifted the pause on using the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine, and UNC Health is following federal guidance to resume use.

Fifteen people developed a rare clotting disorder within six to 13 days of receiving the vaccine. More than 6.8 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine have been given, making the overall risk very low.

“Out of an abundance of caution, these vaccinations were paused while these events are fully investigated,” says UNC Health infectious diseases specialist David A. Wohl, MD. “These events do appear to be extremely rare and occurred within two weeks of vaccination.”

The Johnson & Johnson vaccine fact sheet has been updated to include information about the risk of blood clots. If you have a medical condition or specific questions, discuss the vaccine with your physician.

When To Seek Medical Attention

While the incidences of these types of clots in the brain and other parts of the body are rare, please contact your medical provider or the NC COVID-19 Helpline at (888) 675-4567 if you are within the first three weeks after your vaccination and are experiencing new or worsening of any of the following symptoms that are persisting for more than a few hours:

  • Severe headache
  • Abdominal pain
  • Leg pain
  • Shortness of breath

Seek emergency assistance if your symptoms are severe.

Again, public health officials have not determined that the vaccine is connected to blood clots, only that more investigation of those six cases is needed. More information is expected in the days and weeks to come. Vaccine safety is a top priority for the federal government, which is why even very rare reports are investigated, according to the FDA and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Other Vaccines Still Available

In addition to the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are available.

“These two other vaccines have not been linked to blood clots,” Dr. Wohl says. “They also work differently than the Johnson and Johnson vaccine and have been given to many more people without reports of post-vaccine blood clots.”

Image Credit, University of Maryland
Sources: M. Fiamengo. Previous Design: Maria Leonor Ramos, MD General and Family Medicine
European Medical Agency; UK Medicines and Healthcare products Review Agency; Suh YJ, Hong H, Ohana M et al. Pulmonary Embolism and Deep Vein Thrombosis iN COVID-19: A systematic Review and Met-Analysis. Radiology 2021. Chen, Yun-Jui & Liu, Zhi-Hoo & Loo, et al. (2013). Current and Former Smoking and Risk for Venous Thromboembolism: a Systematic Review and Meta Analysis.

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