Health experts discuss halting of Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine

Published: Apr. 13, 2021 at 4:40 PM CDT
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WASHINGTON, D.C. – In a joint statement Tuesday, the directors of the Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control are calling for a pause of the administering of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine after reports of blood clotting.

Your News Leader spoke with health officials to understand what this means for those who have received the vaccine and going forward.

More than 6.8 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine have been administered throughout the U.S. As of April 13, six women between the ages of 18 to 48 have developed a rare and severe type of blood clotting.

“One case has been fatal, one case is currently in critical condition and so again we just need to figure out if the vaccine is associated with this,” said Kylie Hall, a project coordinator with North Dakota State University’s Center for Immunization Research and Education.

North Dakota has administered more than 21,000 doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. First District Health Unit had a vaccine clinic for Ward County Monday for the specific shot.

“At this point, I am not worried about the vaccine doses that were given. Again, it was six cases for 6.8 million doses, so you are actually more at risk for driving at work today for something bad to happen,” said Lacey McNichols with First District Health Unit.

Chief medical advisor to the White House Dr. Anthony Fauci said they did not “pull the trigger” too early and want to make sure safety is a priority.

“We are totally aware that this is a very rare event. We want to get this worked out as quickly as we possibly can, and that’s why you are seeing the word pause, in other words we want to hold off for a bit and very well may go back to that, maybe with some conditions or maybe not,” said Fauci.

Some are worried that this could increase vaccine hesitancy.

“Vaccination continues to be safer than getting COVID. If this is associated with vaccination the rate is greater than one in every million doses administered, we are having this adverse event. We know COVID causes severe disease, hospitalization, and death at a rate much higher than that,” said Hall.

If you have recently received a Johnson and Johnson vaccine monitor your symptoms and speak to your provider.

“A severe headache, severe abdominal pain, leg pain, and shortness of breath in the following three weeks after vaccination,” said McNichols.

As of April 13, there have been no cases of the severe blood clotting in North Dakota.

Wednesday, the CDC’s advisory committee will meet to further review the six cases and determine if the vaccine is safe to continue on. Your News Leader is following the story and will keep you up to date on the latest information.

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