Dr. Anthony Fauci on what the Johnson & Johnson vaccine reactions could mean for women

Anthony Fauci

FILE – In this Jan. 21, 2021 file photo, Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, speaks with reporters at the White House, in Washington. Fauci won a $1 million award from the Israeli Dan David Foundation for “courageously defending science” during the coronavirus pandemic. On Monday, Feb. 15, 2021, the foundation named Fauci, President Joe Biden’s chief medical advisor, as the winner of one of three prizes, saying he had earned it over a lifetime of leadership on HIV research and AIDS relief, as well as his advocacy for the vaccines against COVID-19. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File)

Hours after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration recommended a pause on giving out the Johnson & Johnson vaccine due to adverse reactions in six women, Dr. Anthony Fauci spoke with “CBS Evening News” about what the decision means. 

The interview below has been edited for length and clarity. 

CBS News: People who just got the Johnson & Johnson vaccine are worried. What should they look out for? 

Dr. Anthony Fauci: Well, it depends on when they got it. It appears that this adverse event occurs between six days and 13 days. So if you’ve had it a month or two ago, I think you really don’t need to worry about anything. Having said that, you still wanna be alert to some symptoms, such as severe headache, some difficulty in movement, or some chest discomfort and difficulty breathing. 

These are women of childbearing age. Does this suggest that it could be hormonal?

Absolutely and that’s one of the things that we wanna investigate. There have been similar types of phenomena that have occurred during pregnancy. Clotting abnormalities are known in women who take birth control pills, so certainly there could be a hormonal aspect to this.

Do you think birth control might play a role?

We don’t know that. And that’s one of the questions that’s gonna be asked about these people, was there a commonality of people on birth control pills? We don’t know the answer to that right now.

You pointed out this is less than one in a million chance that you may have this. It’s very, very rare. But will this fuel vaccine hesitancy?

Well, certainly that is a concern. The question that is often asked, does this have anything to do with the other vaccines, the mRNAs, from Moderna and from Pfizer? You know, absolutely not. Because you look at it, 121 million people have received at least one dose of a vaccine. Only 6.85 million of those were J&J. The rest were Moderna and Pfizer, and there’s no negative or adverse or red flag signal coming from any of those vaccines, which is very good news. In other words, they are very safe.

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