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  • Writer's pictureDr. Speir

New information on Johnson and Johnson/Janssen vaccine

So you have probably heard that the J&J vaccine (the one that was only 1 shot) has been paused due to risk of life-threatening blood clots. A similar thing seemed to be a trend with the Astra Zeneca vaccine, which is also uses an adenovirus vector. Interestingly, the J&J vaccine blood clots were all in young women ages 18-45 ( possibly one more case in a 59 yo but not confirmed) and there were 6 people out of 7.5 million people who received the shot. This translates to 0.00013 % risk of blood clots. To put it in perspective, a healthy person taking birth control has a 0.05% risk of blood clots and a healthy pregnant women is more than double that of 0.1-0.2%. I just read a study looking at pregnant women who had COVID and the risk of blood clotting in those women was significantly higher than those without COVID. So again, when things are so new we must always weigh risks and benefits. We don't know exactly what combination of risk factors caused these women to get these life threatening blood clots, but I suspect there will be some pattern. For example, they might have all been on birth control pills, also had a genetic mutation that pre-disposed them to blood clots or maybe obesity or high blood pressure. As of today, I think if I was a young woman I would still get vaccinated, but opt for one of the other vaccines Moderna or Pfizer that uses a completely different technology.

Although this is a set back in getting to that herd immunity status, I find it reassuring that our vaccine tracking data is so robust that we can see trends this small. I think most medical professionals would agree COVID-19 causes some sort of inflammatory response that increases blood clotting so I do think it is wise to exercise caution and avoid this vaccine especially if you have had any family history or personal history of blood clots. I feel for those poor women who have been affected by these blood clots and hope they recover soon. The type of rare blood clot that these women seemed to get is called a cerebral venous sinus thrombosis (CVST) and seems to be especially hard to treat because of the low platelet count so they are unable to receive common blood thinners. I will keep my eyes out for any more information regarding these extremely rare complications.

I am attaching a photo of the beautiful Dr. Anne Kent as she was honored at Hoag a few weeks ago with an endowed chair in Obstetrics and Gynecology. I know a lot of her former patients have been asking about her. As you can see, her voice might be gone but she still looks amazing!

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