Washington woman 4th to die from J&J COVID vaccine of 15 million given shot nationwide

The News Tribune | by Katie Camero | October 6, 2021

A woman in her late 30s has died of a rare blood clotting condition nearly two weeks after receiving a single-dose Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine in Washington, according to state health officials.

The woman is the first confirmed death in King County, and the fourth person to die nationwide out of the nearly 15 million people who have received the J&J shot since it became available in the U.S.

“We at Public Health are saddened by this loss and offer condolences to the woman’s family and loved ones,” the county’s public health department said in a statement released Tuesday. “As with many medications, the risk of serious adverse events is small, but not zero. It is vital for people to have this information in order to make their own informed decisions.”

The woman was vaccinated on Aug. 26 and died on Sept. 7. Experts with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed her cause of death was thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome (TTS).

The condition, which mostly affects women ages 18-49, continues to be a rarity after vaccination with the J&J vaccine. Only two reports of TTS out of 346 million administered shots in the U.S. have been reported following the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine as of Aug. 18, according to the CDC. Still, there isn’t an increased risk for developing the condition among those who received the Moderna or Pfizer coronavirus vaccines.

Initial reports of the blood clots following vaccination with the J&J shot led federal health officials to issue a pause on the vaccine’s use in April, which lasted about two weeks, as special committees discussed the handful of cases at the time. In the end, experts determined the benefits of the single-dose shot outweighed potential risks.

Of 12.5 million people who got the J&J vaccine as of July 8, a total of 38 people had developed TTS, the King County public health department said, the majority of whom have recovered.

The CDC conducted an “individual-level risk-benefit analysis” in April and found that for every 1 million doses of the J&J vaccine given to the highest risk group — women younger than 50 years old — about 297 hospitalizations, 56 intensive care unit admissions and six coronavirus-related deaths could be prevented. That’s compared to seven TTS cases that would be expected to develop in that group.

Experts say your risk of developing a blood clot while sick with COVID-19 is higher than your chances of developing one after vaccination.

Nearly 20% of COVID-19 patients in the ICU develop blood clots, Dr. Hyung Chun, a cardiologist with Yale Medicine in Connecticut said. The coronavirus is known to promote the development of clots by forcing blood vessels and blood to behave a certain way, Chun said, which may explain why some patients die and suffer from damaged organs.

“Unfortunately, in those who are sick enough with COVID-19 to be in the ICU, blood clots have been a major factor in their illness,” Chun said in a Yale post. “[Nearly 20% is] far higher than what you’d expect for patients who are in the ICU for different conditions. Estimates I’ve seen are in the 3% to 10% range for patients admitted for other reasons.”

In King County, an unvaccinated person’s risk of dying from COVID-19 is 57 times higher than that of a vaccinated person of the same age. Risks for hospitalization among the unvaccinated are 41 times higher.

A total of 1,899 people in King County have died from COVID-19 as of Oct. 5. This story was originally published October 5, 2021 1:48 PM.

Read more at: https://www.thenewstribune.com/news/coronavirus/article254781422.html#storylink=cpy

KATIE CAMERO Katie Camero is a McClatchy National Real-Time Science reporter. She’s an alumna of Boston University and has reported for the Wall Street Journal, Science, and The Boston Globe.

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