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Rare cases of clotting that have been seen with two COVID-19 vaccines have put the spotlight on an uncommon reaction that occurs when the body unleashes its immune firepower against blood platelets.

Health officials are exploring whether and how the immune reaction may occur in people who have received vaccines made by AstraZeneca PLC and Johnson & Johnson. Concerns have risen so high that the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Food and Drug Administration jointly recommended a pause in the use of the J&J vaccine on Tuesday.

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