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Q: Is it safe to get the Johnson & Johnson vaccine?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have once again recommended use of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine after a temporary pause. This means that an investigation found that the vaccine’s benefits outweigh any potential risks.

You should know that doctors and scientists continuously monitor and study reports of any side effects from all of the COVID-19 vaccines. To date, more than eight million people have received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine with less than 30 reports of people who experienced an extremely rare but potentially serious blood clot condition called thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome (TTS). This rare side effect occurred a week to two weeks after receiving the Johnson & Johnson vaccine and all were women under age 60.

The risk of developing this problem is small. For women age 18-49 -- the group considered most at-risk -- the chances of having this happen are around seven in one million. For women over 50 and all men, the chances are closer to zero.

The bottom line is that the risks of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine are low. The slightly increased risk of TTS for women 50 and younger, remains extremely rare. However, the risks associated with contracting COVID-19, including the potential for long-haul symptoms, is much higher. And, remember, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is only one of the three FDA-EUA approved vaccines for COVID-19. Pfizer and Moderna are a two-dose alternative that have not produced the TTS side effect and is a viable option if there are TTS concerns.

Chrissy Miller
Employee Health Manager, Maui Health