These are the signs of a blood clot and what to do immediately

Johnson and Johnson vaccine
Johnson and Johnson vaccine
Photo by Matthew Hatcher/Getty Images

On Tuesday, federal health officials called for a sudden halt on Johnson & Johnson’s single-dose coronavirus vaccine injections due to a rare and severe type of blood clot among six recipients who received the vaccine.

All recipients were women, between the ages of 18-48 who developed the illness within one to three weeks of being injected.

Of the six recipients, one woman died and a second woman has been hospitalized and is in critical condition. In their cases, a type of blood clot called cerebral venous sinus thrombosis (CVST) - part of the process that causes a stroke - was seen in combination with low levels of blood platelets (thrombocytopenia).

CVST occurs when a blood clot forms in the brain’s venous sinuses and prevents blood from draining out of the brain. This often results in blood cells leaking blood into the brain tissues and forming a hemorrhage.

So, what are the symptoms of CVST?

  • Severe headache
  • Blurred vision
  • Fainting or loss of consciousness
  • Loss of control over movement in part of the body
  • Seizures
  • Coma

How is it treated?

The quicker treatment begins, the better the outcome, typically. Doctors will use fluids, antibiotics, anti-seizure medication, surgery and other methods, depending on the situation. The need for speed means you should dial emergency services right away, if you believe you or someone you know is currently showing worrying symptoms.

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According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 6.8 million people in the United States have received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. Nearly nine million more doses have already been shipped out. On Wednesday, the CDC will convene a meeting of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) to examine these cases and determine a common link.

Is the CDC warning people to look out for any other Johnson & Johnson side-effects?

While these cases are extremely rare, if you develop abdominal pain, leg pain, or shortness of breath within three weeks of receiving the J+J vaccination, the CDC recommends you contact your health care provider immediately.

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