FDA Updates Risks, Cautions for Clotting-Bleeding Disorder on Janssen COVID-19 Vaccine

Megan Brooks

December 15, 2021

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Updated Janssen/Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine fact sheets for healthcare professionals and the general public now include a contraindication to its use in persons with a history of thrombosis with thrombocytopenia after receiving it "or any other adenovirus-vectored COVID-19 vaccine," the US Food and Drug Administration has announced.

Thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome (TTS) — thrombocytopenia and increased bleeding risk along with documented thrombosis — after administration of the Janssen Ad26.COV2.S vaccine remains rare. But over all age groups, about 1 in 7 cases have been fatal, said the agency.

"Currently available evidence supports a causal relationship between TTS and the Janssen COVID-19 vaccine," the provider fact sheet states.

Although TTS associated with the Janssen COVID-19 vaccine has been reported in men and women aged 18 and older, the highest reported rate has been for women aged 30-49, the agency states. The rate in that group has been about 1 case per 100,000 doses administered.

Symptoms of TTS may occur 1-2 weeks after administration of the Janssen COVID-19 vaccine, the FDA says, based on data from the Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System (VAERS).

Its clinical course shares features with autoimmune heparin-induced thrombocytopenia. In individuals with suspected TTS following receipt of the Janssen COVID-19 vaccine, the agency cautions, the use of heparin "may be harmful and alternative treatments may be needed. Consultation with hematology specialists is strongly recommended.”

The apparent excess risk of TTS remains under investigation, but "the FDA continues to find that the known and potential benefits of the Janssen COVID-19 vaccine outweigh its known and potential risks in individuals 18 years of age and older,” the agency states.

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