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Received the J&J vaccine? 'Don't panic' says doctor

FILE - In this Thursday, April 8, 2021 file photo, the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine sits on a table at a pop up vaccinations site the Albanian Islamic Cultural Center, in the Staten Island borough of New York. The U.S. is recommending a “pause” in administration of the single-dose Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine to investigate reports of potentially dangerous blood clots. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer, File)

WASHINGTON (SBG) - The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration both recommended pausing the distribution of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine after six patients experienced rare blood clots after receiving the shot. The Johnson and Johnson vaccine has been administered to nearly 7 million Americans but is being paused out of an abundance of caution as investigations are made in the connection between the vaccine and the blood clots.

“There has been some speculation that the root of the cause may be the body's immune response to the vaccine, etc. The bottom line though is we really don't know at this point, there are a lot more questions than we actually have answers to,” said Dr. Jen Caudle to The National Desk’s Jan Jeffcoat. “One of the things that the CDC will be doing today is actually looking at the data sort of going through trying to figure out if there are any commonalities, common denominators, etc.”

The Johnson and Johnson vaccine is different from the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, the other two approved vaccines in the U.S. Pfizer and Moderna are both mRNA vaccines, while the Johnson and Johnson vaccine is a viral vector vaccine, according to Dr. Caudle.

“It uses a viral virus vector to deliver instructions to cells,” said Dr. Caudle. “That's sort of a very top-line description but suffice to say that Pfizer and Moderna do use sort of different mechanics than the Johnson and Johnson vaccine, and that's what's important to understand.”

The “rare and severe” blood clots seen in the six patients are different from typical blood clots that can be treated with blood-thinning medication. The CDC and FDA’s decision was partly in order to make health care providers aware of the potential complication.

“The idea is that this is a cerebral venous sinus thrombosis,” said Dr. Caudle. “What this means is it's a complicated way of saying that we can't treat this blood clot the same way we do others, with blood thinners, etc. It's important for doctors and healthcare providers to know, it's important for us to be on the lookout for this for if a person comes in with signs or symptoms that may concern us.”

If you’re one of the nearly 7 million Americans who have received the Johnson and Johnson shot, Dr. Caudle says the first thing to do is to not panic.

“Panic doesn't usually help many things,” said Dr. Caudle. “Symptoms in particular that have been highlighted with regards to this particular type of blood clot would be things like headache that's unusual, not the type of headache that you get as a result of getting the COVID vaccine ... something unusual, different, severe. abdominal pain, leg pain, shortness of breath, any neurological symptoms as well. But the bottom line is, if something doesn't seem right or doesn’t feel right, make sure you're seeking medical care.”