The news this week that there have been six reported cases of a rare and severe blood clot in women between the ages of 18 and 48 who have received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is not the kind of news we welcome, but I am reassured, as I hope you are, that recommending a pause in the use of the vaccine was the right thing to do and helps show that we all take vaccine safety very seriously.
On Tuesday, the Department of Health and Welfare (DHW) issued a press release recommending that Idaho vaccine providers not use the Johnson & Johnson vaccine until more information is available from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). This recommendation was made after receiving information that the CDC and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) also recommended a pause in the use of that vaccine and are reviewing the data for the six reported cases. All 50 states have made this same recommendation.
On Wednesday, April 14, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) met and did not put forth any formal recommendations during this meeting. Voting members are waiting for additional data for a more robust risk-benefit analysis, and that should be available to them next week. Additional discussion may address restrictions for vaccine use in highest risk populations, possibly by age or gender.
Although this is not news we were expecting, this is exactly what is supposed to happen with any new vaccine or drug or protocol: if there is an unexpected adverse reaction, there is a pause to review the data and then refine recommendations. The safety system in the United States works. The FDA and the CDC made the right decision to temporarily halt the use of this vaccine.
Almost 7 million (6,820,188) doses of Johnson & Johnson vaccines have been administered in the U.S. In Idaho, a total of 82,500 doses have been distributed, and 30,673 doses had been administered. There are no reported incidences of the rare blood clots in Idaho.
Even as we pause the Johnson & Johnson vaccine in Idaho, vaccinations still remain a priority.
The Moderna and Pfizer vaccines have not reported this issue. Those vaccines have been proven to be safe and effective, and I would encourage you to choose to get one of these vaccines.
In the United States (as of this morning), 23.6 percent of the population (18 and over) have been fully vaccinated. That means 78,267,353 people have been fully vaccinated.
There are some possible side effects when you get the vaccine, as there is with any medication you take, and they are:
- Pain, redness, and swelling in the arm where you got the shot
- Tiredness, headache, muscle pain, chills, fever, nausea (flu-like symptoms)
If you have received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine and experience a severe headache, abdominal pain, leg pain, or shortness of breath within three weeks after vaccination, please contact your healthcare provider. The chances of you experiencing any of these side effects is very rare, but you need to know what to do, just in case.
I understand that some people are nervous about taking any vaccine, and I understand that things that are new can be unsettling, but if we want to put the pandemic behind us, choosing to get a COVID-19 vaccine is the most effective way to get our state, and our country, back to normal.
I hope you all have a safe and healthy weekend.
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People will do whatever they do. Information is the better method of making choices.