J&J Vaccine and Blood Clots: What to Know If You Already Got the Shot

Six cases of cerebral venous sinus thrombosis have been reported among the 6.8 million people who received the J&J vaccine.

J&J Vaccine and Blood Clots: What to Know If You Already Got the Shot

After the Johnson & Johnson vaccine was associated with cases of "rare and severe" blood clots, the U.S. government recommended officials pause giving the shot. But nearly 7 million people have already received the vaccine. So the news has a lot of people wondering if they should be concerned and what they need to look for.

The short answer: "Don't panic."

"Don't worry. Remember, this is a rare event," vaccine scientist Dr. Peter Hotez told Dr. Oz on Tuesday.

Who Got Blood Clots?

Just six cases of these blood clots have been reported among the 6.8 million people who received the J&J vaccine, according to the CDC. They occurred in women between the ages of 18 and 48 with low blood platelet levels. Their symptoms developed six to 13 days after vaccination, and at least one of the women died.

What Makes the Blood Clot Severe?

The women developed a condition called cerebral venous sinus thrombosis (CVST). That's when a clot forms in the brain's venous sinuses and blood can't drain out of the brain properly, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine. This may cause blood cells to break and leak blood into brain tissue, which leads to hemorrhaging (severe bleeding).

This condition is a type of stroke, which can lead to brain damage, difficulty moving parts of the body, impaired vision or speech and death.

As Dr. Hotez said, this is a rare occurrence in people who received the J&J vaccine. But as with any medical treatment, it's important to be aware of your own symptoms and reactions so you can catch any possible complications early.

What Are the Symptoms of CVST?

The following symptoms may present if you have CVST:

  • Headache
  • Blurred vision
  • Fainting or loss of consciousness
  • Loss of control over movement in part of the body
  • Seizures
  • Coma
If you or someone you know experiences these stroke symptoms, call 911 or go to the emergency room immediately.

How Is CVST Treated?

The faster you get medical attention for CVST the better your recovery will be. The CDC stressed that treatment for this condition is unique from typical blood clot treatment.

"Usually, an anticoagulant drug called heparin is used to treat blood clots. In this setting, administration of heparin may be dangerous, and alternative treatments need to be given," the CDC said in a statement.

In a typical situation, a blood clot patient may receive surgery, antiseizure medication, antibiotics if an infection developed, and specific monitoring to control pressure inside the head. Rehabilitation may also be needed.

Should I be Concerned About the Moderna and Pfizer Vaccines Too?

Experts are saying no. The Moderna and Pfizer vaccines, which include two doses and were developed with mRNA technology, are different from the J&J vaccine, which is just a single dose and was created with adenovirus vectors. No cases of CVST have been reported in people who received the two-dose shots. Officials are working to determine exactly why these patients developed CVST and the specific link to the J&J vaccine. Anyone experiencing adverse effects after receiving a vaccine can report it here.

Watch Dr. Oz's full interview with Dr. Peter Hotez below.

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