What Women Need to Know About the Covid Vaccine

What Women Need to Know About the Covid Vaccine

04/14/2021

Can it affect mammograms or the timing of fertility treatments? What side effects should you look out for? Experts weigh in.


By Christina Caron

News that six women developed a rare blood clotting disorder after receiving Johnson & Johnson’s Covid-19 vaccine has prompted new questions about whether vaccines affect women differently than men, and whether there are special considerations that women should take into account when getting vaccinated.

We spoke with a few experts to learn what women should know as they become eligible to get their shots.

We don’t yet know if the blood clots affect women more than men.

Federal health agencies on Tuesday recommended that practitioners pause administering the Johnson & Johnson vaccine after a half-dozen women developed a rare blood clotting disorder about two weeks after vaccination. The recipients were between the ages of 18 and 48; one woman died and a second was hospitalized in critical condition.

But it is not clear if the clotting was caused by the vaccines or whether women are necessarily more often affected.

In Europe, it initially appeared that women were at greater risk for blood clots associated with the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine, which has not been authorized for use yet in the United States, but it turned out that more women were getting the vaccine overall in some countries. British regulators now say that they don’t have evidence to say whether men or women are more likely to be affected by blood clots.

Anyone who has a severe headache, abdominal pain, shortness of breath or leg pain after receiving the Johnson & Johnson vaccine should call their health care provider.

Getting vaccinated can change the way your mammogram looks.

Coronavirus vaccinations can cause enlarged lymph nodes in the armpit that will show up as white blobs on mammograms. This type of swelling is a normal reaction to the vaccine and will typically occur on the same side as the arm where the shot was given, said Dr. Geeta Swamy, a maternal-fetal medicine specialist and a member of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists’s Covid vaccine group. It usually only lasts for a few weeks.

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