Volume 31



Johnson and Johnson Vaccine Update

Now that the pause is over, people in the United States can receive the Johnson and Johnson vaccine again and it is available for inoculation without any changes to the formula. After more than 7 million doses of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine had been administered, the United States had called a pause on the injections. Six women between the ages of 18 and 48 who received the Johnson and Johnson vaccine were found to have developed rare blood clots in the brain called thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome. One woman from Virginia passed away, and another in Nebraska is hospitalized in critical condition.

Unlike the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, the Johnson and Johnson requires only one shot. Although it has a lower efficacy rate than the others, it is still considerably high for a vaccine. The single dosage appeals to many people because many clinics are often quite far from their homes or workplaces. There have been no side effects this severe in neither the Pfizer nor the Moderna vaccine. After the first six women were found with the clots, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced that there were some more incidents reported, but the numbers are yet to be revealed.

Even with these potential connections to the Johnson and Johnson vaccine, public health officials have been leaning towards ending the pause since the beginning of it. CDC director Rochelle Walensky told the Washington Post, “I recognize that the eyes of the country and across the world are on this decision, and the gravity of the decision. I want to hear what ACIP has to say, and then all of us are motivated to move quickly thereafter.”

Similar blood clots were found in some recipients of the Astra-Zeneca vaccine, which has been distributed Europe. Johnson and Johnson has decided to delay their roll-out of the vaccine in several European countries, according to the New York Times. Meanwhile, Australia announced that they would not be purchasing any of the doses from Johnson and Johnson.

This pause, though temporary, could have had some important and unexpected benefits. In the event that these side effects could appear in the future, physicians now know how to treat it. The CDC has time to advise doctors of the symptoms, and what not to use to get rid of the clots, according to Yahoo News.

Dr. Carol Gonsalves, an expert in thrombosis, said, “The risk of thrombosis with COVID-19 infection far outweighs the risk with any of the vaccines. It is in our best interest for personal safety but also our civic duty to be vaccinated,” according to Yahoo News.

Several agencies like the CDC and FDA have been undergoing more testing for this vaccine, according to NBC News. In the meantime, Harvard-Westlake (HW) students were asked questions about the vaccinations and recent news referring to them.

When asked which vaccine they would like to receive when they become available to their age groups, 56% of students who took the poll said they would want the Pfizer vaccine, 9% said Moderna, and 7% said they would want Johnson and Johnson. Of course, this could be in direct correlation to the effectiveness of each vaccine, but the results to the next question show otherwise. The other 28% said that they didn’t know enough to make an informed decision or that they wouldn’t want to receive a vaccine.

The following question was “What is your top priority in choosing a vaccine?” Roughly 63% of students chose safety, and only 29% said efficacy. Accessibility and convenience fell short in terms of the most important, with only about 4% each.

The final multiple choice question asked if the respondent had any reservations about receiving any vaccine. 62% said no, 23% said maybe, and 15% said that they did. This was followed by a short answer question asking why or why not they had chosen their answers to the previous question.

One anonymous student wrote, “I’m not entirely sure as to whether I would get the vaccine, as I have heard a lot of recent news in the press about the J&J [Johnson and Johnson] vaccine having side effects. However, at the end of the day, keeping everyone safe is the #1 priority, so I would push these fears aside.”

Several students also expressed concern about long term side effects of certain vaccines. Another student who preferred to be nameless referenced the blood clots that appeared in the Johnson and Johnson recipients: “The only one I’d have reservations about is the J&J one if it isn’t fixed.”

Even with the finding of thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome, the lift of the pause can assure us that the side effects of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine are treatable and very rare. Whatever vaccine you choose, it’s important to get vaccinated if you can.

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