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A note from our leaders about Johnson & Johnson: Our goal is to share the facts

Dr. John Heaton, President and Chief Medical Officer, and Dr. Jeffrey Elder, Medical Director Emergency Management, LCMC Health
A note from our leaders about Johnson & Johnson: Our goal is to share the facts
We’ve all been following the recent news of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) announcement that recommended a pause in the use of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine. We know you may be concerned if you or a loved one received the vaccine, and you likely have questions about the safety and overall effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines in general.

You’ve trusted us with your medical care, and we’re continuing to partner with our community by sharing more information about the Johnson & Johnson vaccine pause. Our goal is to provide you with the medical facts to help you make informed decisions about your and your family’s health.

We stand behind the importance of all eligible adults receiving the COVID-19 vaccine, and here’s why:

Risk of a blood clot with a vaccine vs. risk of blood clots with Covid-19

The CDC and FDA paused the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine after a small number of patients developed a rare type of blood clot known as Cerebral Venous Sinus Thrombosis (CVST). A blood clot is a clump of blood that has changed from liquid to a more solid state. While you may have read that in general blood clots can be a more common medical condition, CVST isn’t.

Only six cases were reported after over 6.8 million doses of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine were provided to patients. These cases were even more unique because the patients that developed clots had low platelet counts (platelets are small parts cells in our blood that form clots and stop or prevent bleeding).

That math works out to less than 1 person per million reporting issues.

This may not feel reassuring enough when considering your own health and safety, but the truth is the risk of this blood clot developing after vaccination with the Johnson & Johnson vaccines is extremely low, much lower than the risk of developing a blood clot from COVID-19 itself.

You may be asking, “If it’s so safe, why pause it at all?”

The pause is a clear safety measure that lets scientists at the CDC and FDA review all of the data tied to reports of CVST after receiving the J&J vaccine. Over 182 million Pfizer and Moderna vaccines have been distributed across the US with no reported cases of CVST with low platelets. Importantly, the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines use a different method to get your immune system to respond to the vaccine, are not tied to reports of blood clots, and are available now.

We want to reassure our community that vaccination against COVID-19 protects you and your family against COVID-19. When you’re vaccinated, you’re less likely to become sick from COVID-19, be hospitalized, or die from the virus. Both Pfizer and Moderna’s vaccines are still available to protect you and your loved ones from COVID-19.

If you were scheduled to receive the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, please contact us to learn about additional vaccine availability.

How to contact us: LCMChealth.org/vaccine

If you received the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine and develop severe headache, abdominal pain, leg pain, or shortness of breath within three weeks of your vaccination, contact your healthcare provider or seek immediate medical care.

Weighing the odds for patients at any age

It’s worth noting that the rare cases of reported blood clots have not been definitively linked to the vaccine just yet, which is why the FDA and CDC are digging into the research now. Assuming that these are related to the J&J vaccine, we in the local medical community can use that information and our Louisiana Department of Health data to compare the relative risk of a possible blood clot to the risk of contracting COVID-19.

It’s worth repeating the facts so that we can all make informed decisions about our health: even in adults at lowest risk from COVID-19, 8 to 29-year-olds, the risk of dying from COVID is at least 350 times greater than the possible risk of a clot. The relative risk of dying vs. a possible blood clot skyrockets from there: for 50 to 59-year-olds, the risk of getting COVID and dying from it is over 10,000 times greater than any potential risk of a clot.

Regardless of your age, the odds of getting COVID-19 and dying from it are far greater than the risk of a serious medical issue from a vaccine. We have vaccines that are safe and effective, available now, and I know that my own loved ones protected themselves as soon as they were eligible.

Let’s continue to come together to Be in that Number!

For the latest information on the Johnson & Johnson vaccine please visit: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/safety/JJUpdate.html