Nebraska health officials say severe blood clots are rare, urge public to remain confident in vaccines

CHI Health doctor: "If I hadn't already been vaccinated and I were scheduled for my Moderna or Pfizer vaccine tomorrow, I would show up for my appointment."

LINCOLN, Neb. (KLKN) – The sudden pause of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine has sent shockwaves through the country.

In Nebraska, local health officials say it’s important that people understand how unusual these severe reactions are.

“It’s so rare that this would even happen but if it does, it’s really important to talk to your medical doctor,” Dr. Renuga Vivekanandan of CHI Health said.

Symptoms to look out for include severe headaches, abdominal pain, leg pain or shortness of breath.

Dr. Vivekanandan advises that people who have received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine in the past three weeks and are experiencing extreme symptoms should report them to their doctor right away.

Still, health officials maintain it is far more likely to get severe blood clots from things like birth control, smoking, and COVID–19 itself.

“We have seen when you have actual COVID–19 infections, the chances of getting clots are much higher,” Dr. Vivekanandan said. “Clots in the legs, clots in your lungs, it’s [a] much, much higher percent than compared to the vaccine numbers we are getting right now.”

11,500 Johnson & Johnson shots have been administered in Lancaster County. There have been no reports of adverse effects from the Johnson & Johnson vaccine within the county.

For now, health officials say those shots will be put on ice.

“Right now, it’s sitting there in storage, while we’re figuring out if it’s going to be used again,” Dr. David Quimby said. “It could entirely be down the road, we’ll say okay, this vaccine is good, except for this particular group of people.”

All six of the people who experienced severe blood clots after receiving the Johnson & Johnson vaccine are women between the ages of 18 and 48.

Health officials say they hope the pause of the Johnson & Johnson shot won’t discourage people to take one of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines when they have an opportunity.

“It’s really, really important that we continue to keep the confidence in the vaccine,” Dr. Vivekanandan said.

Johnson & Johnson shots were scheduled to be used at upcoming clinics at Gateway Mall. The Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department has pulled those vaccines and is replacing them with Pfizer or Moderna vaccines.

“If I hadn’t already been vaccinated and I were scheduled for my Moderna or Pfizer vaccine tomorrow, I would show up for my appointment,” Dr. Quimby said.

Health Director Pat Lopez says it remains to be seen how the Johnson & Johnson pause will impact the health district’s vaccine rollout, but added she does not anticipate a “huge impact.”

Categories: Coronavirus, Health, Lancaster, Nebraska News, News