RICHMOND, Va.— The CDC is investigating the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine's side effects in six Americans, one of whom, is a Virginia woman who has died.
Health leaders said the kind of blood clots potentially caused by the J&J shot must be treated differently than normal blood clots.
"Some of the normal treatments in the context of a stroke heparin, namely, actually make this condition worse," said Virginia Vaccine Coordinator Dr. Danny Avula. "And so they felt that it was important to bring this to the attention of healthcare providers to ensure that they asked about a vaccine history if they see this combination of a stroke-like event and low platelet count."
Health experts are urging those who have already gotten the shot not to panic, but to keep an eye out for potential side effects.
“Those are severe acute onset headaches, abdominal pain, lead, or onset shortness of breath," Avula noted.
Because the six cases identified are in women between the ages of 18 and 48, the nation's top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, said the blood clots could be a hormonal reaction.
“That's one of the things that we wanna investigate, and what the CDC and FDA are going to be doing when they delve deeply into all the details of this case," Fauci explained. "It's certainly suggestive of that. There have been similar types of phenomena that have occurred during pregnancy. Clotting abnormalities are known in women who take birth control pills, so certainly there could be a hormonal aspect to this.”
Meanwhile much of Virginia is already in Phase 2 of vaccinations, and state health leaders are waiting to find out if Virginia's allotment of J&J doses can be used.
The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, or ACIP, is expected to meet virtually Wednesday to review data on the six women who developed blood clots.
We will continue to bring you updates as we receive them on this developing story.