Washington Woman Died After Rare Vaccine-Related Blood Clot

Oct. 7, 2021 — A Washington state woman died from a rare blood clotting syndrome after receiving the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine, state health officials said.

The woman, who was in her late 30s and a resident of King County, was the first person in the state to die from a vaccine-related blood clot. She received the shot on Aug. 26 and died more than a week later on Sept. 7.

“We send our deepest condolences to her family and loved ones,” Umair Shah, MD, the state health secretary, said in a statement. “Losing a loved one at any time is a tragic and difficult pain that’s become all too familiar in the last year and half of this pandemic.”

The cause of death stemmed from thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome, or TTS, city and county health officials said Tuesday. The syndrome is a rare but serious condition that causes blood clots with low platelets. It has been identified as a rare complication associated with the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine, with symptoms occurring 2 two weeks after vaccination.

The CDC’s Clinical Immunization Safety Assessment Project confirmed the woman’s diagnosis, Seattle and King County health officials said. The CDC has reported three other deaths nationwide from the vaccine-related syndrome.

In April, the CDC paused its authorization of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine to study the risks of rare blood clotting complications. Later that month, the CDC lifted the pause after determining that the benefits of the vaccine outweigh the risks. The Moderna and Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines have not been associated with this condition.

The vaccine complication is rare, occurring in about 7 per 1 million vaccinated women ages 18-49, according to the CDC. For women over age 50 and men of all ages, the complication is even rarer.

Among the 15 million people who have received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, the CDC has identified 47 cases of the syndrome. The majority have recovered.

The CDC advises patients to seek medical attention after vaccination if they have symptoms such as shortness of breath, chest pain, leg swelling, belly pain, severe headaches, easy bruising, or tiny blood spots under the skin.

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