Carilion Clinic leaders assure Johnson and Johnson vaccine safety amid concerns

The chances of getting a blood clot after a dose of the vaccine is incredibly low

A pause in the Johnson and Johnson vaccine is causing nationwide concern over the safety of the COVID-19 vaccine.

Health experts with Carilion Clinic want to assure the public that the risk of getting a rare blood clot from the vaccine is incredibly low.

In fact, they say you have a higher chance of getting a blood clot if you actually contract COVID-19.

Just six out of more than six million people developed a rare blood clot after getting the Johnson and Johnson vaccine causing the pause.

Local health leaders at Carilion Clinic are following that guidance and say it gives experts time to review what could have caused these rare reactions.

“I think it’s important that that pause has happened so that they can learn more and look into the cases of the blood clots,” Carilion Clinic Chief Medical Officer Dr. Patrice Weiss said.

Weiss says it’s important to use context when discussing the statistics, as people face a higher risk of blood clots from things like certain medications and smoking.

“Folks who may be taking birth control pills, there’s about a 500 to 1,200 person, per million incidences of blood clots for people taking those medications, there’s almost a 2,000 incidence of blood clots in patients who smoke,” Weiss said.

Weiss says there’s also a much greater chance of developing a blood clot by actually contracting COVID-19.

“It’s been reported that there have been about 165,000 clots, per million people of those folks who have been affected with COVID,” Weiss said.

And while Carilion thinks the pause in distribution is important, leaders are still encouraging everyone to get a dose of Pfizer or Moderna.

“Certainly we’re taking these six cases of blood clots very seriously and look into them, but I think it’s important for folks to know that as of right now, the incidence of blood clots related to the J&J vaccine is less than 1 million,” Weiss said.

Weiss says the signs of a blood clot are severe headaches, swelling and abdominal pain and are much more severe than symptoms of the COVID-19 vaccine.

About the Author:

Annie Schroeder joined the 10 News team as a reporter in June 2020 and is no stranger to Southwest Virginia.