What to know about the Johnson & Johnson vaccine

Tuesday, May 11, 2021

 Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine vial in a doctor's hand with rubber glove.

This article has been reviewed by our chief medical consultant Dr. Charles Schutz. Source data for this article were gathered from the CDCand FDA

Following a brief pause and after careful review and investigation, the CDC and FDA announced in late April that use of Johnson & Johnson’s (J&J) COVID-19 vaccine should resume in the United States. 

The agencies, along with the independent Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP), concluded that the known and potential benefits outweigh the known and potential risks of receiving the J&J vaccine for people ages 18 and older. The vaccine is still considered safe and effective for preventing COVID-19. 

The temporary pause was due to a possible relationship between the J&J vaccine and a rare adverse event occurring at a rate of about 7 per 1 million in vaccinated women between the ages of 18 and 49. As of April 23, 2021 more than 8 million doses of the J&J vaccine were given in the United States. For women ages 50 years and older and men of all ages, this adverse event is even more rare. However, women under age 50 should be aware of the rare, but increased risk of this adverse event.

The CDC stated that “detecting these rare adverse events tells us that the systems in place to monitor the safety of these vaccines are working… and the pause reflected the federal government’s commitment to transparency and safety as CDC and FDA gathered and reviewed additional data.”

According to the CDC, the “COVID-19 vaccines have undergone and will continue to undergo the most intensive safety monitoring in U.S. history.”

The rare adverse event has not been linked to the Pfizer or Moderna COVID-19 vaccines.

What if I received or will receive the J&J vaccine? 

For three weeks after receiving the vaccine, you should be on the lookout for possible symptoms of a blood clot with low platelets. These include:

  • 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

Seek medical care right away if you develop one or more of these symptoms.

For guidance about your individual health concerns related to the COVID-19 vaccines, please reach out to your primary care physicians.

Find a full breakdown of the CDC’s latest recommendation to resume use of Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine here


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