SAN ANTONIO – COVID-19 vaccines are becoming more accessible across San Antonio.
However, given the Johnson & Johnson vaccine pause, Dr. Jan Patterson, an infectious disease specialist with UT Health San Antonio, joined Leading SA on Sunday to discuss the rare vaccine complications.
According to Dr. Patterson, the mechanisms that the federal government has in place for a safe vaccine rollout are working.
“The good news is that the safety surveillance system is working,” Patterson said. “It detected six cases of a rare and severe blood clot syndrome among about seven million doses of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine that have been given,” Patterson said. “These were detected by the vaccine adverse event reporting system and some were reported directly to the manufacturer. So, based on the information we have right now, this complication appears to be less than one in a million.”
Dr. Patterson said that the severe vaccine side effects associated with the vaccine were isolated cases and specific.
“These cases occurred in six women between the ages of 18 and 48 years old and occurred six to 13 days after vaccination,” Patterson said. “There were clots in veins in the brain in addition to low platelet counts. So, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices met last week and they decided to collect more information before deciding whether to continue the pause or to place some restrictions on the vaccine.”
If you are nervous about getting the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, there are signs of severe reactions to the vaccine you should look for, according to Dr. Patterson.
“(You) should watch for easy bruising, bleeding nose or tiny red dots under the skin; these are signs of low platelets or leg, arm pain or swelling. Severe, persistent headache or abdominal pain, shortness of breath or chest pain; these are signs of blood clots,” Patterson said. “If they have those, they should seek medical attention because there’s a specific treatment for this condition.”
Johnson & Johnson aside, Dr. Patterson and other medical professionals said you should still get a vaccine from another provider.
“The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines have been given to 200 million people in the U.S. and we’ve had no cases of this particular blood clot syndrome among those people,” Patterson said. “And the system has not detected a signal for other serious adverse effects. So, the side effects, you know, are minor those that occur within two to three days of the dose. So, our arm muscle aches, headache, fatigue, sometimes fever, and we know that they’re very effective. These mRNA vaccines are 94% to 95% effective against mild to moderate disease. Notably, all of the Food and Drug Administration’s authorized vaccines are 100% effective against hospitalizations and death.”
You can watch the full interview with Dr. Patterson in the video player above.