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Guillain-Barre’ Syndrome and Covid-19 vaccine

Guillain-Barre’ Syndrome  and Covid-19 vaccine

Janssen (Johnson and Johnson) Covid-19 Vaccinations

As the population of Americans vaccinated against covid-19 increases, the possible side effects of this immunity are becoming more transparent. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has authorized and recommended three vaccines for protection against the coronavirus, which includes Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson (J &J). Approximately, 14 million Americans over the age of 18 have received the Johnson and Johnson single-dose covid-19 vaccine.

Recently, it has been reported to the Food and Drug administration that those who receive this vaccine may be at risk for developing Guillain-Barré Syndrome (GBS). This was reported after approximately 100 people, most of them being men over the age of 50, experienced symptoms. It is important to note that these symptoms are experienced within 14-42 days after receiving the vaccine.

Guillain-Barré Syndrome

Guillain-Barré syndrome is a condition in which your body attacks its nerve cells. The exact cause for this condition is unknown, but it is very rare. Most people who develop this syndrome make a full recovery. The most common symptoms include pins and needles sensations in hands and feet which spread to arms and legs, weakness in legs, instability, facial muscles become difficult to move, severe pain, hypertension, hypotension, difficulty breathing, tachycardia, incontinence, and may result in paralysis. These symptoms typically present themselves in a progressive fashion, thus it is important to contact your doctor immediately if these symptoms present themselves.

Cases Reported

The Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) shows that 95 out of the 100 cases resulted in hospitalization and there was one death. According to Kathy Katella in Yale Medicine, regulators state that the benefits of this vaccine still outweigh the risks, and due to the number of people who have experienced Guillain-Barre syndrome this side effect is considered rare. In addition, the FDA has now attached a warning to the J&J vaccine, yet has also stated that the relationship between the vaccine and GBS has not been established. Yale Medicine also states that GBS has also been reported as a potential side effect from Influenza, Zika virus, and Covid-19 virus infection.


More than 99% of deaths occur in people who are NOT vaccinated. As the delta variant spreads throughout the country it is recommended for all eligible people to get vaccinated. However, it is important to be aware of the signs of symptoms that may show a potentially dangerous medical condition. Albert C Shaw, MD,  an infectious disease specialist at Yale medicine suggests that the adverse effects of the vaccines should not prevent the public from getting vaccinated due to the low risk and rarity of the cases reported. You can discuss the pros and cons with your internal medicine provider.


  1. Katella, Kathy. “J&J Vaccine and Guillain-Barré Syndrome: Information on the FDA Warning” July 21, 2021.

  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen COVID-19 Vaccine Overview and Safety” June 23, 2021. 

  1. Mayo Clinic Staff. “Guillain Barre Syndrome” July 23rd, 2021.       



Fanny Munoz

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