Frequently Asked Questions about the Johnson and Johnson Pause

Why is the J&J vaccine on pause?

The CDC and the FDA are recommending a pause in the use of the Johnson & Johnson (J&J) COVID-19 vaccine to allow researchers at both agencies time to better understand a small number of reported cases of women developing a rare clotting disorder after receiving the vaccine.  As of April 13, 6.8 million doses of the J&J vaccine have been administered and six cases of blood clots have been reported. All six known cases have occurred in women between the ages of 18 and 48, within six to 13 days of receiving the vaccine.

The purpose of the pause in the vaccine’s use is to determine if there’s any association, and the strength of the possible association, between the vaccine, the health of the six affected women and the clotting disorder. Having this information will help screen patients.  Also, to be reviewed is what about the vaccine may have caused the disorder.  According to the CDC, the number of cases at this point is too small to determine specific risk factors that might predispose someone to the clotting problem.

This clotting issue is very rare; fewer than one in 1 million people have experienced it after receiving the J&J shot.

If I’ve received the J&J vaccine, what should I do?

If you received the J&J vaccine within the last month and develop any of the following symptoms within three weeks of receiving your shot, you should contact your doctor or seek medical treatment: severe headache, blurred vision, fainting, seizures, abdominal pain, leg pain or shortness of breath.  Mild fever, mild headache, fatigue and joint or muscle pain after vaccination are routine and typically go away within two to three days.

The great majority of people who have received the J&J vaccine have not experienced any harmful side effects. According to the CDC, if you received your shot over a month ago your risk is very low and you don’t need to take any specific action. If you have concerns, consult your doctor.

What does the J&J pause mean for the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines?

The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are continuing to be administered and continue to show very strong safety and efficacy. The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are both mRNA technology vaccines. The J&J vaccine uses a different technology called vector vaccine.

As of April 13, many more people have safely received the Pfizer vaccine (36 million people fully vaccinated) and the Moderna vaccine (31 million people fully vaccinated) than people who have received the J&J vaccine (6.8 million doses administered). This greater experience with the Pfizer and Moderna shots provides more data on their safety and more reason to be confident about their continued use.

Furthermore, this pause in the use of the J&J vaccine means that the vaccine safety monitoring system is working. Responding to the pandemic has required many difficult decisions on the part of federal experts. They are working to balance vaccine safety while also vaccinating Americans as quickly as possible.

To learn where you can get vaccinated in Wisconsin, click here.

What will happen next with the J&J vaccine?

The CDC and FDA have called for this pause in an “abundance of caution.” They will continue to review the known cases of the clotting disorder and make further recommendations soon. CDC officials have said that the pause is intended to allow time to learn more about the clotting issue and share information with health care providers to help them recognize and treat the clotting problem.

Updated 4.14.2021