Federal health officials have identified several additional cases of a rare but serious blood clot in people who received the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine. The cases were discussed during a meeting Friday as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advisory committee weigh data for potential updated policy recommendations.
Dr. Tom Shimabukuro with the CDC COVID-19 vaccine task force elaborated on cases of so-called thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome (TTS) following J&J COVID-19 vaccinations. TTS is a broad term including the rare but potentially deadly cerebral venous sinus thrombosis (CVST), but also deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary thromboembolism.
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Shimabukuro reported 15 TTS cases amid a backdrop of nearly 8 million vaccinations, as of April 21. All of the reported cases were among women aged 18-59, with a median age of 37. Of the 15 total, 12 were identified as CVST with thrombocytopenia; the 11 other cases occurred in locations like the portal vein and pulmonary artery. Other potential cases under review include males. Officials excluded one female with a “complex and unique” case history.
At least two patients experienced headaches starting more than six days post-vaccination, and other symptoms including chills and fever, while the later clinical course involved severe headaches and speech difficulty, among other symptoms.
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Ten patients were identified as “severely thrombocytopenic,” with platelet levels fewer than 50,000 per cubic millilter. (Normal platelet levels are 150,000-450,000 per cubic milliliter).
Of the total, six patients were treated with heparin, three patients died, seven remain hospitalized including four in intensive care, and five were discharged home, Shimabukuro said.