In the wake of Tuesday’s news that federal agencies called for a “pause” on the use of Johnson and Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine, it’s only natural that you have questions. To help you make sense of these recent developments, we consulted with a local doctor and public health experts.
Below are answers to your frequently asked questions about the vaccine. These answers are based on statements from Dr. Sunil Joshi, president of the Duval County Medical Society Foundation, along with a joint statement from the CDC and FDA. Note: Some responses have been edited for clarity.
Your Frequently Asked Questions
Question: What should I watch out for if my shot was within the last 10 days?
Dr. Joshi: We are advising that folks pay close attention to severe headaches, leg pain and swelling, shortness of breath and abdominal pain, as these could be symptoms of a blood clot.
Question: Is there anything we can do to possibly prevent blood clots if we’re within the two-week window?
Dr. Joshi: The problem is that we don’t know what the underlying cause is. So it’s hard to answer, but staying hydrated and physically active should be encouraged.
Question: I got the vaccine a month ago. Are there any symptoms I need to keep an eye out for?
Dr. Joshi: These occurrences were between six and 13 days after the women received the Johnson and Johnson vaccine. If it has been one month after the vaccine, the risk of having a blood clot as a direct effect of the vaccine should, theoretically, be less. But if the person has any of the symptoms we discussed above (severe headaches, leg pain/swelling, shortness of breath, abdominal pain), it should be addressed by his or her medical provider.
Question: Is it safe for me to work out? I got the Johnson & Johnson vaccine on Sunday.
Dr. Joshi: If the person is asymptomatic, it is best for him or her to do the normal activities of daily life.
Question: What are the symptoms we need to watch out for with regards to these blood clots?
Dr. Joshi: Severe headaches, leg pain and/or swelling, abdominal pain and shortness of breath.
Question: I got the Johnson & Johnson vaccine Sunday and, given the recent news, I’m wondering what I can do to prevent blood clots? Are there vitamins or over-the-counter medicines I should take?
Dr. Joshi: I would suggest staying hydrated and remaining physically active.
Question: How long will the Johnson & Johnson vaccine use be paused? Will there be more testing on it?
Dr. Joshi: That’s a good question. Really not sure at this point. They will be looking into these six cases to try and understand why the women developed blood clots. Did they have other things in common? Were they smokers? Or were they on oral contraceptives? Did they suffer from other health conditions? We will learn more over the coming days, for sure.
Question: I got the Johnson & Johnson vaccine March 14. I tested positive April 1 with mild symptoms. I’m 77. Should I be concerned?
Dr. Joshi: The key here is “mild symptoms.” That is why the vaccines are so important. They make it so that we are significantly less likely to have a severe illness with the virus. It does not completely 100% prevent you from getting the virus.
Question: I took the Johnson & Johnson vaccine while on Ritalin and birth control. I’m five days out. Do I need to worry about blood clots due to being on Ritalin and birth control?
Dr. Joshi: Please remember that the blood clots occurred in six of the 7 million people who were vaccinated. That is a 0.00009% chance of having a blood clot after the vaccine. So if the person is not having any of the symptoms, I would recommend that she stay hydrated and stay physically active to minimize the risk of blood clots in general.
Question: I got the Johnson & Johnson vaccine last week. Is there anything I can do to be proactive about clots? Baby aspirin? Drink more water?
Dr. Joshi: We do not know enough about the nature of the blood clots to recommend that someone take a blood thinner like aspirin at this point. But staying hydrated is a good idea.
Question: I received the vaccine about a month ago but haven’t experienced any symptoms. How long after the injection were people seeing clotting issues?
According to the CDC and FDA’s joint statement, all six cases involved women between the ages of 18 and 48 whose symptoms occurred six to 13 days after getting their Johnson & Johnson vaccines.
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