BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) – BRProud’s Kennedi Walker has been on the front lines covering the COVID-19 pandemic. When reports came out about reactions to the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, they were almost identical to what she experienced.
When it was Walker’s turn to get a shot, she was excited. Afterward, she went to work, but throughout the day, she lost feeling in her left hand and fingers.
Then 12 hours later, with a fever of 103 degrees, she was rushed to the emergency room, where she passed out. Doctors ran tests, gave her pain medication, and sent her home.
After leaving the ER, Walker’s symptoms didn’t improve; the body aches and chills worsened.
“At times, it felt like I couldn’t breathe,” Walker said.
It wasn’t until her second ER trip that doctors realized she was having a rare reaction to the vaccine.
Federal health authorities told providers Tuesday to temporarily stop giving out the Johnson and Johnson vaccine after six women between the ages of 18 and 48 developed blood clots. One person died, and another is in critical condition.
Ochsner Regional Medical Director Dr. Aldo Russo said the clots are considered extremely rare.
“That’s a reaction that happened in less than .5% of the people that got vaccinated,” Russo said. “We do know if you get COVID, you have a 15% chance of developing clots in your body in either your legs or your lungs.”
Overall, more than 6.8 million people in the U.S. have received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. No similar issues have been reported with Pfizer or Moderna.
Sarah Joy Hays, who also received the J & J vaccine, did not experience the same kind of reactions that Walker did.
“Honestly, it was no worse than the flu shot this year,” Hays said, adding that she only had soreness in her arm, something physicians say is normal.
Our Lady of the Lake’s Chief Medical Officer Dr. Katherine O’Neal said the rare reactions should not deter people from getting vaccinated.
“We’ve given a ton of vaccines, and that vaccine is safe,” O’Neal said. “We have 100 million people worth of those vaccines and haven’t seen those types of side effects.”
In a statement, Johnson & Johnson said it is aware that blood clots have been reported with some COVID-19 vaccines, but there’s no clear connection between the vaccine and the clots.
Physicians continue to urge everyone to help stop the spread.
“The vaccine really works. It’s safe. It’s saving tons of lives,” O’Neal said.