San Francisco, CA

Johnson and Johnson vaccine pause: Is the vaccine safe, what about side effects?

Ed Walsh

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San Francisco's Moscone Convention Center vaccination site

San Francisco City Health officials are weighing in on the safety of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine.

Last week, on April 13, the CDC and FDA recommended a temporary pause in the use of Johnson & Johnson vaccine. That decision, the feds say was made out of an "abundance of caution." More than 6.8 million doses of the J and J vaccine have been given in the United States. Out of those nearly 7 million cases, six reported cases of a rare and severe type of blood clot.

The City and County of San Francisco repjorts that it is following the FDA and CDC’s recommendation and has directed health care providers "to pause the use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine until we receive direction from health and safety experts."

Citry officials say that if you are experiencing symptoms, contact your healthcare provider. The city has promised to provide additional iinformaton on the J and J vaccine when available.

Here's some common questions on the J and J vaccine and the city's answers:

I already received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. Is there anything that I should look for or be concerned about?

"This blood clot side effect is very rare. There have been more than 6 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine given in the U.S. and only 6 reported cases. There have been 33,000 doses given in San Francisco and no reported cases. It is important to note these symptoms are different from the common mild flu like symptoms many experience shortly after receiving a vaccination. If you received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine in the last 3 weeks and are experiencing severe headaches, abdominal pain, leg pain or shortness of breath please contact your health care provider or seek medical attention as soon as possible."

I was vaccinated with the Johnson and Johnson vaccine. Should I get a new,different vaccine now?

"No. All approved COVID Vaccines -- including Johnson & Johnson -- have been shown to be overwhelmingly safe and effective at preventing COVID-19. Johnson & Johnson was 100% effective in preventing hospitalization and death, from COVID-19, 28 days after vaccination. There are no new doubts about how effective the vaccine is."

I had an appointment to receive the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, will my appointment be cancelled and the vaccine be replaced with Moderna or Pfizer? Should I wait until the pause for the J and J vaccine is over?

"All SFDPH vaccine events and locations will offer an alternate vaccine choice to those previously scheduled for Johnson & Johnson vaccine. Note that the other choices require two shots instead of one, as with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. Unfortunately, there is no other one dose vaccine. Most other vaccine providers will also be able to provide this alternate, 2-dose vaccine choice. Please contact your vaccine provider for more information. San Francisco Department of Public Health. The longer you wait to get vaccinated, the greater the risk of contracting COVID-19. The risk of dying from COVID is still very real. General Info Q: When and how was California notified of the issue? A: California received notification from the CDC and FDA on 4/13/ 21."

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