What You Need to Know About the Johnson & Johnson Pause

Editor’s note: On April 23, the FDA and the CDC lifted the pause on the use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which is again available through UNC Health.

You may have heard that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has recommended pausing the use of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine after six women developed a rare type of blood clot involving the brain within six to 13 days of receiving the vaccine.

If you are one of the nearly 7 million Americans who have received this vaccine, you may be worried about what this means for you.

First it’s important to note that there are six cases of concern out of nearly 7 million shots given, and it is still unclear if the clots were related to the vaccine.

“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.”

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 the 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 Are Not Paused

If you have not yet been vaccinated or are scheduled for a vaccination, you will receive either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine.

“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.”

Visit yourshot.org for the latest information on the COVID-19 vaccines.