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Coronavirus vaccine side effects may be more common in women


Women are more likely to experience side effects from the coronavirus vaccines compared to their counterparts, a federal study shows.

And women made up all six cases that led to the pause in administering one brand of vaccine Tuesday.

The FDA and Centers for Disease Control Prevention announced Tuesday morning that officials are recommending a pause in using Johnson & Johnson's one-shot coronavirus vaccine after six women developed serious and rare blood clots.

According to the FDA, more than 6.8 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine have been given out in the United States. The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services said 105,721 doses of the Johnson & Johnson had been given out in Missouri as of Monday.

The FDA and CDC are investigating six cases involving blood clots after getting the vaccine. All six cases involve women ranging between 18 and 48 years old and all of the symptoms reported happened six to 13 days after getting vaccinated.

On Tuesday morning, the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services announced a pause on administering the Johnson & Johnson vaccines within the state.

The department said in a release that anyone who has gotten the Johnson & Johnson vaccine and develops a severe headache, abdominal pain, leg pain or shortness of breath within three weeks after vaccination should contact their health care provider. Anyone with any other vaccine questions can contact the COVID-19 hotline at 877-435-8411. 

CDC data studied from December 2020 to January 2021 showed women were more likely to experience vaccine side effects. The report said women were also more likely to experience the more unusual side effects.

The Moderna cases studied in the report showed women made up 77% of the reported side effect cases. Only the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines were studied in this time frame.

"We're not really sure why (women are seeing more side effects) at this stage of the game," said Thomas Robbins, medical director for Jefferson City Medical Group. "We still have an awful lot to learn about the vaccine and its effects."

The Boone County Health Department said the pause in the Johnson & Johnson vaccine should be investigated but should not deter people from getting vaccinated.

"One of the most common, hesitant things that people say is that they're not sure if the vaccine is safe because of how quickly it was produced," said Ashton Day, health educator for the Columbia/Boone County Health Department. "But it's really just important to remembers that it's only six cases out of more than 6.5 million doses given."

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warns of multiple side effects known from receiving the vaccine. These side effects can include pain, redness and swelling of the injection side. People can also experience fatigue, headaches, chills and fevers.

Robbins said side effects from coronavirus vaccines should clear up within 72 hours of the injection.

Day said the health department stands firm on the stance that getting vaccinated is still one of the best ways to protect yourself against COVID-19.

According to the state dashboard, 3,135,710 doses of the coronavirus vaccine have been given out statewide, which equates to 31.9% of the state population receiving at least one dose of the vaccine. Exactly 21% of the population is fully vaccinated.

Boone County is currently the most-vaccinated jurisdiction in the state with 38.4% of the population receiving at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine.

Cole County is currently the 12th most-vaccinated jurisdiction in the state with 30.2% of its population receiving at least one dose of the vaccine. On Monday, the county officially opened its permanent mass vaccination site at the Capital Mall. Walk-ins for the site are welcome but appointments can be scheduled as well on the Missouri Vaccine Navigator website.

Check back for updates to this developing story and watch ABC 17 news at 5 and 6.

Article Topic Follows: Coronavirus

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Meghan Drakas

Meghan joined ABC 17 News in January 2021.
The Penn State grad is from the Philadelphia suburbs where she interned with several local TV stations.


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