Johnson & Johnson Vaccine Rollout Paused Due to 1 in 1 Million Chance of Blood Clots
For comparison, birth control has a 1 in 1,000 chance of blood clots.
America’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout has hit a speedbump amid recommendations to pause the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the US Food and Drug Administration made the recommendation after six reported US cases of a “rare and severe” type of blood clot. But before you start panicking, these are 6 cases among over 6.8 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine administered in the United States. That’s roughly a one in a million chance of severe blood clots from the vaccine.
So far, all six cases occurred in women between 18-48, with symptoms appearing 1-2 weeks after injection. In a joint statement, the CDC and the FDA said, “Until that process is complete, we are recommending a pause in the use of this vaccine out of an abundance of caution.”
Dr. Carlos del Rio, executive associate dean of the Emory University School of Medicine at Grady Health System, told CNN, “It’s a very rare event. You’re talking about 1 per million, and when you give millions of doses of vaccines, you will see events like this that you couldn’t see in the clinical trial just because you didn’t have millions of people enrolled.”
The F.D.A. recommends that people who have received the J & J vaccine within the past three weeks should contact their doctors if they experience severe headaches, abdominal pain, leg pain, or shortness of breath.
The pause in the vaccine rollout is understandable, and all precautions should obviously be taken. But many women and birth control users are taking to social media to point out that birth control has blood clotting rates of 1 in 1,000, yet no one seems concerned or surprised.
I’m not a public health expert and have no position on J&J, FYI, but I would like science to fix birth control.
— Rebecca Fishbein (@bfishbfish) April 13, 2021
And blood clotting is only one of many side effects caused by birth control, which include headaches, weight gain or loss, nausea, sore breasts, spotting, changes in menstruation, and more. Other more severe (but much less common) side effects include blood clots, heart attack, stroke, angina, migraines, high blood pressure, liver tumors, and death.
It’s wild that everyone is freaking out about the AZ vaccine causing blood clots (1 in 250,000 chance) and no one bats an eye at birth control having a ONE IN A THOUSAND risk of blood clots.
— Hannah Thomasy, PhD (@HannahThomasy) April 12, 2021
Of course, tens of millions of people take birth control for decades now, and it is universally considered to be a very safe drug. But because it’s a drug made for women, there has been less research and funding devoted to studying the adverse effects of various forms of birth control. Add to that a medical bias that doesn’t take women’s pain seriously, and you get a clearer picture of how this country continually disregards women’s health. And of course, this callous treatment is exacerbated in BIPOC women and gender-nonconforming individuals.
I don’t think most men have any idea how much risk women are just uh expected to take on in the name of reproductive choice
— Erin justice breyer please retire Ryan (@morninggloria) April 13, 2021
And who has time to further investigate these side effects when Republicans are constantly trying to restrict access to birth control, close down Planned Parenthood clinics, and allowing right-wing businesses to deny this lifesaving healthcare coverage because of “religious freedoms”? The fundamentalist fervor over birth control only makes everything more difficult for folks who need this lifesaving drug.
I get it but I hate this narrative because every woman’s body is different and birth control helps in ways outside of preventing pregnancy that women need. https://t.co/HTp9ZFIfLf
— Jaden Broke (@andria_dee) April 13, 2021
We’ll have to wait and see what happens with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. In the meantime, birth control access and education continues to be a deeply frustrating obstacle course for the folks who need it.
(via CNN, featured image: ROBERT ATANASOVSKI/AFP via Getty Images)
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