Does the Covid-19 Vaccine Cause a Rare Vein Disease?
The Food and Drug Administration and Centers for Disease Control recently recommended that states temporarily stop using Johnson & Johnson’s Covid-19 vaccine due to a very rare blood clotting disorder called Central Venous Sinus Thrombosis (CVST). It occurred in six women who received the vaccine in the U.S. Though this disease is far from our usual topics of spider and varicose veins, we thought we should address it since it’s so timely and it is related to veins.
The cerebral venous sinuses and cerebral veins are the blood vessels that blood travels through on its way back to the heart from the brain. In CVST, a blood clot forms in these vessels. As a result, blood that is trying to travel back to the heart is blocked in its journey. The blood backs up and it can leak into the brain tissues, forming a hemorrhage. Nearly, 10% of people with this condition die.
Six women, ages 18 to 48, developed rare Cerebral Venous Sinus Thrombosis after receiving the J & J vaccines. One of the patients died and another is in critical condition.
Some patients with Covid-19 infections have also had difficulties with blood clots and low platelet counts. It is thought that an autoimmune process causes platelets to form clots in these patients. In doing so, it consumes platelets and the platelet count falls. Investigators believe that the same mechanism is in effect in CVST following vaccination.
The CDC has emphasized how rare this condition is, only occurring in one out of a million recipients of the vaccine. The halt that was called on the administration of the J & J vaccine is no longer in effect and people are receiving that vaccine.
So far, the side effect seems to appear within 6 to 13 days after vaccination. So those who recently received the vaccine should be aware of symptoms that may appear and know what to look for.
The blood clots also all occurred in women under the age of 50, but the current group is too small to make generalizations about certain conditions or factors that would predispose people to the blood clots.
The symptoms of this type of blood clot are very different from the flu-like symptoms that people experience a few days following vaccination: tiredness, headache, muscle pains, chills, fever and nausea.
If you receive the vaccine and develop severe headache, abdominal pain, leg pain or shortness of breath, you should contact your health care provider and seek medical treatment.
Blood clots can travel through your blood stream and become lodged in various areas of your body, cutting off blood flow to important organs like the brain, heart or lungs.
All in all, though this complication sounds scary, it’s important to remember that it is exceedingly rare. The risks of contracting a Covid-19 infection and of suffering a complication of the infection far exceed the risk of CVST. That’s why the CDC has resumed use of the vaccine. It’s best to follow CDC recommendations on this matter.