Pennsylvania woman 1 of 6 who developed rare blood clot linked to J&J vaccine

PHILADELPHIA -- One of the six women who developed an extremely rare, severe type of blood clot linked to the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is from Pennsylvania.

According to ABC News, the woman was identified by health officials as a 26-year-old who is overweight.

The New Jersey Health Department confirms that the woman is a resident of Pennsylvania who was hospitalized in New Jersey.

Health officials say so far, six cases out of more than 7 million U.S. inoculations with the one-dose vaccine have discovered the rare symptoms.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced Tuesday that they "pause" the use of the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine after the women developed the rare blood clots about two weeks after the vaccine was administered.

SEE ALSO: Johnson & Johnson COVID vaccine to remain in limbo while officials seek evidence

The vaccine will remain in limbo for a while longer after government health advisers declared Wednesday that they need more evidence to decide if a handful of unusual blood clots were linked to the shot - and if so, how big the risk really is.

At an emergency meeting, advisers to the CDC wrestled with the fact that the U.S. has enough alternative shots to vaccinate its population but other countries anxiously awaiting the one-and-done vaccine may not.

"I continue to feel like we're in a race against time and the variants, but we need to (move forward) in the safest possible way," said CDC adviser Dr. Grace Lee of Stanford University, who was among those seeking to postpone a vote on the vaccine.

Authorities have studied the clots for only a few days and have little information to judge the shot, agreed fellow adviser Dr. Beth Bell of the University of Washington.

"I don't want to send the message there is something fundamentally wrong with this vaccine," Bell said. "It's a very rare event. Nothing in life is risk-free. But I want to be able to understand and defend the decision I've made based on a reasonable amount of data."

SEE ALSO: Johnson & Johnson vaccine pause shouldn't stop people from being vaccinated, health experts say
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The Johnson & Johnson vaccine pause shouldn't stop people from getting vaccinated, one doctor says. Dr. Sampson Davis points out so much ground has been made when it comes to overcoming vaccine hesitancy, particularly in communities of color.


These are not run-of-the-mill blood clots. They occurred in unusual places, in veins that drain blood from the brain, and in people with abnormally low levels of clot-forming platelets. The six cases raised an alarm bell because that number is at least three times more than experts would have expected to see even of more typical brain-drainage clots, said CDC's Dr. Tom Shimabukuro.

"What we have here is a picture of clots forming in large vessels where we have low platelets," Shimabukuro explained. "This usually doesn't happen," but it's similar to European reports with the AstraZeneca vaccine.

The good news: The government says there are no signs of similar clots after vaccination with the Pfizer and Moderna shots that are the mainstay of the COVID-19 fight in the U.S.

The J&J cases now under investigation are all among women younger than 50. But the advisory panel stressed that there's not enough information to tell if only certain groups would be at risk. In Europe, most but not all cases following AstraZeneca vaccinations have been among women under 60, leading different countries to use that vaccine in varying ways.

MORE: What does it mean if you've had the Johnson & Johnson vaccine?

Also, a 25-year-old man experienced a similar clot during U.S. testing of J&J's vaccine, something the government scrutinized at the time but could not link to the shot. On Wednesday, the company also brought to the CDC's attention a woman whose clot did not occur in the brain, sparking more questions about what other evidence to examine.

The CDC expects its advisers to reconsider the evidence within two weeks. So far the clots have occurred between one and three weeks after people received the J&J vaccine, and officials cautioned that more reports could surface.

The clot concerns could undermine public confidence in a vaccine many hoped would help some of the hardest-to-reach populations - in poor countries or in places like homeless shelters in the U.S.

But the U.S. has intensive monitoring for COVID-19 vaccines, since side effects too rare to have occurred in studies of thousands of people sometimes pop up once shots are used in millions. Shimabukuro said spotting such a rare potential risk amid the nation's huge vaccine rollout "is an example of a success story for vaccine safety."

Some vaccine specialists who were closely watching the deliberations expressed dismay that the public - here and abroad - will have to wait for more advice.

"What they did was they punted," said Dr. Paul Offit, a vaccine expert at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. "I just don't think waiting is going to give you a critical amount of information that is going to help you make a decision."

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Deputy Director of CDC Dr. Anne Schuchat spoke exclusively to "Good Morning America" on the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine and blood clot cases.



He noted that many European countries are dealing with the AstraZeneca uncertainty without stopping its use.

Health officials recommended the J&J timeout in part to make sure doctors know how to recognize and treat the unusual condition. The CDC said Wednesday that four of the six women with the unusual clots were treated with a blood thinner named heparin - a treatment the government is warning doctors to avoid.

The setback for J&J comes as the worldwide death toll from COVID-19 approaches 3 million, including more than 560,000 who perished in the U.S., which continues to report tens of thousands of new infections every day and an average of almost 1,000 deaths.

So far, the J&J vaccine has been a minor player in U.S. vaccinations. More than 122 million Americans have received at least one vaccine dose, and nearly 23% are fully vaccinated. Moderna and Pfizer are on track to have delivered 300 million doses each by mid- to late July.

-- ABC News and the Associated Press contributed to this article.

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