I got the J&J shot and now I’m freaking out… what should I do?

Mental Health Staying Safe Vaccines

A: We understand you may be fearful. Here’s what you need to do if you recently got the J&J vaccine.

1️⃣ Watch for the specific symptoms: severe headache, abdominal pain (belly or gut), leg pain, or shortness of breath. If you have any of these symptoms up to a month after receiving the J&J vaccine, do not ignore them. Contact your healthcare provider.

Clinicians across the country, including your primary care provider if you have one, are being briefed on the symptoms and the best therapy for those who are experiencing symptoms. However, they cannot treat you if you don’t contact them. At the earliest signs of the above symptoms, see a healthcare provider.

These symptoms are not the same as the flu-like symptoms that happen within a day or two of getting the vaccine (which include aches, chills, fever, and a headache)–but if you’re not sure, ask.

2️⃣ Don’t change your medications as a preventive measure without speaking to your healthcare provider. There is no clinical recommendation to start taking low-dose aspirin (or anything else) to prevent this type of rare blood clot right now. Keep in mind that these are not “regular” blood clots–they’re a certain type of blood clots accompanied by low platelets. Blood clots with low platelets give you two problems at the same time: no blood flow to areas with a clot and risk of severe bleeding. The clinical management of this is tricky and does not follow standard treatment of a blood clot.

3️⃣ Fear is a real health issue, too–so do what you can to address your fear.

These blood clots are *very* rare. Your chances of getting one are lower than getting struck by lightning in the United States (really!). It’s one in a million. Also, it appears that they all happened within 2 weeks of getting the shot, so if you got the J&J vaccine more than 3 weeks ago, you can let it go. Finally, there is no definitive link to the vaccine yet–we are awaiting news.

If you need help managing anxiety and fear, that’s a good reason to reach out to your clinician too. Guided meditation or just keeping busy may be good options for you. Here are two free, secular guided meditations for fear that we recommend:

Guided meditation for anxiety

Guided meditation to transform fear

4️⃣ Expect more bumps and twists in this road. The FDA has said that this pause is expected to be short–a matter of days. The pause is just to give the safety review board time to ask the important questions. One possible outcome is that it turns out there’s no link between the blood clots and the vaccine–it was just bad luck. Another is that there was a link, but the safety committee decides that the very small risk is outweighed by the enormous benefits of the vaccine. Or, it may be that the panel can’t determine causality.

In all likelihood, the J&J vaccine will be unpaused quickly after the advisory committee reviews the cases and evaluates the balance of risks and benefits of the vaccine.

As always, what you read on our page, or anywhere on Facebook, does not substitute for the advice of your healthcare provider. Contact your healthcare provider with all questions about your specific condition.

We have deep concern for the women affected & our hearts are with all those whose health has been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic–in every way.

Joint statement from the FDA and CDC on the Johnson & Johnson vaccine

And a useful Q&A with more details based on quotes from yesterday’s press conference from Federal regulators

If you have any symptoms following a vaccine, you can report them to the Vaccine Adverse Effect Reporting System, which is an important source of data used by regulators to monitor safety. Your reports give us more info to work with over time.

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