COVID-19: Johnson & Johnson vaccine risks explained

Intensive Care Unit nurse Kathy Brady looks on as Pharmacist, Courtney Mattley, left, draws the first dose of Pfizer BioNTech, Covid-19 vaccine before administering it to Brady at Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital in Valencia on Thursday, 121720. Dan Watson/The Signal

Los Angeles County Department of Public Health officials identified the potential side effects of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine Monday, as the county resumed its usage.

This follows the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s announcement Friday that the benefits of resuming the Johnson & Johnson vaccine dramatically outweigh the risks and recommended lifting the pause.

The pause began when cases of thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome, or TTS, which is when clots that form in the large blood vessels around in the brain, were identified.

Of the 15 TTS total cases identified of nearly 8 million vaccines administered, all were women, 13 of whom were between the ages of 18-49, while 14 of whom were white and one of whom was Black.

Of those 15 cases, two women were using hormonal contraception and seven met obesity criteria. Three of these women died, while seven remain hospitalized.

“This type of clotting, if identified early, is often treatable, and in studies, nine in 10 people who are treated for a similar type of clotting disorder have had complete or near complete recovery,” Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said.

Public Health officials advise those who receive the vaccine to continue to look out for early signs or symptoms of TTS one to three weeks after vaccination, which include shortness of breath, chest pain, leg swelling, persistent abdominal pain, severe or persistent headaches, blurred vision, and easy bruising or tiny blood spots under the skin beyond the site of injection.

For every 1 million doses of Johnson & Johnson vaccine given, the risk for women ages 18-49 is 13 cases of TTS, while approximately 12 deaths, 127 intensive care unit admissions and 657 hospitalizations are prevented, while that risk decreases for women over the age of 50, according to Public Health data.

In addition, Public Health announced that walk-up appointment availability at county-run mass vaccination sites, including the College of the Canyons site, would be extended through Thursday, while supply lasts.

Anyone 16 and older living or working in L.A. County can get vaccinated without booking an appointment at the county locations with a photo ID and accompanied by a parent or guardian if under 18.

Public Health also released the following updated COVID-19 statistics Monday:

New COVID-19 cases reported in L.A. County in the past 24 hours: 288

Total COVID-19 cases in L.A. County: 1,231,806

New deaths related to COVID-19 reported: 4

Total COVID-19 deaths in L.A. County: 23,777

Hospitalizations countywide: 407

Hospitalizations at Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital as of April 26: 5, with 1,221 discharged since the onset of the pandemic.

COVID-19 cases reported in the Santa Clarita Valley in the past 24 hours: 11, 9 of which came from the city of Santa Clarita.

Total COVID-19 cases in the SCV: 27,598

Total COVID-19 deaths in the SCV as of April 25: 299

Percentage of vaccinated people (at least one dose) in the city of Santa Clarita as of April 18: 48.6%

Percentage of vaccinated people (at least one dose) in the SCV as of April 18: 46.5%

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