U of U Health reports suspected post-vaccine blood clotting case

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FILE – In this April 8, 2021 file photo, the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine is seen at a pop up vaccination site in the Staten Island borough of New York. With a green light from federal health officials, several states resumed use of the one-shot Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccine on Saturday, April 24. Among the venues where it’s being deployed is the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, where free vaccinations were available to anyone 18 or older. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer, File)

SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) – Officials at University of Utah Health reported Wednesday that a male patient suspected of having VITT (vaccine-induced Thrombotic Thrombocytopenia) recently received treatment at one of its facilities.

The suspected case of VITT, which is considered to be extremely rare by Hematology.org, was diagnosed and treated following the patient’s administration of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

According to a press release from U of U Health on Wednesday, the patient was treated and is now recovering at home.

Distribution of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine was recently paused in Utah due to complications with blood clotting, but has since been lifted by the Utah Department of Health after direction from the FDA and CDC on April 23.

During Wednesday’s press conference, U of U health experts described the patient as a man under 50 years old who had received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine 10 days prior to feeling pain in his toes and thighs.

After coming in for treatment at the emergency room last week, it was determined that man was experiencing some blood clotting. He was discharged with blood thinner medication and scheduled for a follow-up appointment with a doctor.

However, the day before the follow-up appointment, he began experiencing chest pain and a CAT scan was ordered. The results showed that he had bilateral pulmonary embolism, or blood clots, in the lungs and was then admitted to the Internal Medicine Department for hospitalization.

After several days of observation and testing, it was concluded that the patient tested negative for COVID-19, but showed signs of VITT that were similar to other cases reported nationally.

While the case has not been confirmed as VITT by the CDC, Dr. Yazan Abou-Ismail stated during the press conference that in his professional opinion, the antibody testing on the patient was highly consistent with what has been reported with other blood-clotting cases related to the vaccine.

The case suspected in Utah is unusual in that it occurred in a man, whereas other confirmed U.S. cases of VITT have all affected women. That being said, other male cases are suspected and being investigated.

Health experts at U of U Health are still advising the public to continue receiving vaccines, including the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

“There are risks in everything that we do, but we will continue to have faith in the Johnson & Johnson vaccine within the University of Utah Health because the benefits far outweigh the risks,” said Richard Orlandi, MD, associate chief medical officer for ambulatory health, who also was present at the announcement.

According to Orlandi, the risk of contracting VITT is essentially one or two in 1 million, with the chances of coming down with COVID-19 being much higher.

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