KEY POINTS

  • A J&J COVID-19 vaccine shot could result to side effects seen in Pfizer and Moderna vaccine recipients
  • The Janssen vaccine has a remote chance of causing severe allergic reactions
  • Health officials in Colorado on Thursday suspended vaccine distribution following adverse reactions

The CDC in late March released a report on the possible side effects of the Johnson & Johnson/Janssen COVID-19 vaccine, which came after several vaccination sites closed due to adverse reactions. 

The J&J/Janssen vaccine received its Emergency Use Authorization from the FDA on Feb. 27. The vaccine, which is given in one shot, prevents coronavirus-related hospitalizations and deaths in individuals ages 18 and older. 

Side effects observed by researchers in participants who received the J&J/Janssen vaccine resembled the reactions recorded among people who were given Pfizer’s and Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccines. 

Data from the J&J vaccine trial showed that 59% of participants reported pain at the injection site, 44% experienced headaches and fatigue, 39% developed myalgia or body aches, 16% suffered from nausea and 13% experienced fever, according to the FDA’s briefing document

The J&J vaccine could also cause severe allergic reactions in recipients, although the chance is remote. A severe reaction could occur within minutes or an hour of receiving the dose. Symptoms include:

  • Breathing difficulties
  • Swelling of the face and throat
  • A rapid heartbeat
  • Rashes all over the body
  • Dizziness
  • Weakness

The CDC also advises people against getting the J&J/Janssen vaccine if they have previously had a severe allergic reaction, such as anaphylaxis, to any ingredients in the shot, including polysorbate. 

People who have severe allergic reactions to the vaccine are encouraged to seek help from medical professionals. Allergic reactions can be treated with epinephrine or an epinephrine auto-injector (EpiPen). 

J&J also urged vaccine recipients to tell their providers if they have fever, have bleeding disorders or are using blood thinners, are pregnant or breastfeeding, or are immunocompromised. 

On Thursday, health officials at a vaccination drive at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park in Commerce City, Colorado, were forced to temporarily suspend inoculations after 13 individuals out of an estimated 1,700 recipients suffered from adverse reactions. 

Officials transported two of the individuals to a nearby hospital where they received treatment. Eleven other J&J/Janssen vaccine recipients required observation by medical staff at the site. They received treatment with juice and water, Centura Health, which run the site, told KDVR

In a statement about the incident, J&J said: “We carefully review reports of adverse events in individuals receiving our medicines and vaccines.”

“We are collecting the necessary information, including from the local vaccination center, to assess these reports,” the company added. 

Johnson & Johnson's Covid-19 vaccine could give a boost to the company's brand, which has suffered amid litigation over talcum powder products and the marketing of opioids Johnson & Johnson's Covid-19 vaccine could give a boost to the company's brand, which has suffered amid litigation over talcum powder products and the marketing of opioids Photo: AFP / Mark RALSTON