What You Need to Know About the J&J and AstraZeneca Vaccines

April 17 • 2021

Public health agencies have raised concerns regarding the Johnson & Johnson vaccine in the United States and the AstraZeneca vaccine in Canada after blood clots occurred in a small number of people who received those vaccines. The IAFF urges members who have received the J&J or the AstraZeneca vaccines to follow recommendations issued by the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Health Canada.

J&J Vaccine

In the United States, six cases of blood clots in women between the ages of 18 and 48 were flagged with possible links to the J&J vaccine. The CDC and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommended pausing distribution of the vaccine until those cases could be properly reviewed and recommendations can be made on how to proceed.

What should you do if you have already received the J&J vaccine?

If you have received the vaccine more than two weeks ago and have had no symptoms related to blood clots, there is no cause for concern.

Those within the two-week window of receiving the J&J vaccine should monitor for symptoms of blood clots (severe headache, backache, new neurological symptoms, severe abdominal pain, shortness of breath, leg swelling, petechiae (tiny red spots on the skin) or new or easy bruising). If symptoms appear, see your healthcare provider immediately.

AstraZeneca Vaccine

Similarly, rare blood clots appear to only occur in women under the age of 55 within two weeks of getting vaccinated. In Canada, one blood clotting case was flagged as having a possible connection to AstraZeneca.

What should you do if you have already received the AstraZeneca vaccine?

Health Canada, the federal health ministry, reviewed data from Europe and Britain and determined that the risk of blood clots was extremely low and believes there is no cause for concern. However, out of an abundance of caution, Canada is only administering this vaccine to those who are 55 years and older. For this age group, it is believed that the benefits outweigh the risk.