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Geisinger doctors explain Johnson & Johnson vaccine pause

Pennsylvania joined a growing list of states pausing the Johnson & Johnson vaccine following guidance from the CDC and FDA.

The Pennsylvania Department of Health announced all COVID-19 vaccine providers in the state should pause doses of the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine until at least April 20. This comes after cases of rare blood clots in six women across the country who got the vaccine.

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"The CDC and the FDA are closely monitoring vaccines for safety and effectiveness, and if there is a cause for concern, they will take action because safety is paramount," said Acting Secretary of Health Alison Beam.

"I think the company has taken a very appropriate action by holding and making sure that we are not seeing any additional risks while we are looking further into this," said Dr. Parth Rao, a hematologist and director of quality control for Geisinger's cancer institute.

Dr. Rao does not want this latest announcement to deter people from getting the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines and says actually getting COVID-19 is associated with blood clots at a much higher risk than the vaccines.

"Even your low-risk COVID-19 infection can cause blood clots in up to 10 percent of patients."

Dr. Rao says the six rare blood clots that led to the pause of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine developed in women between the ages of 18 and 48 between one and three weeks after getting that shot.

RELATED: How to schedule a COVID-19 vaccine appointment in Pennsylvania

And for anyone who's already received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine?

"They should look out for any change in symptoms or sudden-onset headache or trouble breathing, leg swelling, and if they see anything out of the norm, they should reach out to their doctors to get evaluated."

Dr. Rao also says the Johnson & Johnson vaccines have a relatively long shelf life and hopes they can be used soon once the review is completed.