What to do if you’ve already received the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine

Updated: Apr. 13, 2021 at 11:49 AM EDT
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - Many people have questions as the U.S. is recommending a “pause” in using the single-dose Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine to investigate reports of potentially dangerous blood clots.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said Tuesday they were investigating unusual clots that occurred 6 to 13 days after vaccination. All six cases were in women between the ages of 18 and 48; there was one death and all remained under investigation.

It is important to keep in mind that more than 6.8 million doses of the J&J vaccine have been given in the U.S. - the vast majority with no or mild side effects.

Federally run mass vaccination sites will pause the use of the J&J shot, and states and other providers are expected to follow.

North and South Carolina health officials announced the states will also stop administering the single-shot J&J vaccine.

The other two authorized vaccines, from Moderna and Pfizer, make up the vast share of COVID-19 shots administered in the U.S. and are not affected by the pause.

A CDC committee will meet Wednesday to discuss the cases and the FDA has also launched an investigation into the cause of the clots and low platelet counts.

So what should you do if you have already received the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine?

The CDC and FDA are recommending that people who were given the J&J vaccine who are experiencing severe headache, abdominal pain, leg pain, or shortness of breath within three weeks after receiving the shot contact their health care provider.

If you have received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine and have not had any side effects associated with blood clots, officials say the risk of having a reaction is unlikely.

Common temporary reactions after receiving the COVID-19 vaccine include sore arm, headache, tiredness, and fever. Some people experience lightheadedness and nausea.

The CDC recommends the following measures to prevent adverse effects:

  • Staying hydrated and having a snack before the appointment
  • Taking slow, deep breaths and focusing on something relaxing before getting the vaccine
  • Sitting or lying down after being vaccinated

As authorities investigate whether the clots really are related to the J&J vaccine, Dr. Geoffrey Barnes, a clot expert at the University of Michigan, stressed that it’s important Americans get vaccinated as soon as possible using the other two available vaccines, from Pfizer and Moderna.

The CDC has created a smartphone-based tool called V-safe that checks in on people after their COVID-19 vaccination. After enrolling, users receive regular text messages directing them to surveys where to report any problems or adverse reactions. V-safe allows people to quickly tell CDC if they have any side effects after getting a COVID-19 vaccine. Depending on the answers to the web surveys, someone from CDC may call to check on the person and get more information.

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