Know the facts behind the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine pause
Federal health authorities recommended states pause their distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine produced by Johnson & Johnson when six women between the ages of 18 and 48 developed a rare form of blood clot after being vaccinated.
Thomas Huth, M.D., Vice President of Medical Affairs for Reid Health, recently answered a few questions about why the pause was suggested by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, whether similar issues have been seen with COVID-19 vaccines from other providers, and the impact of the decision.
QUESTION: Do we know if these clots are even related to the vaccine?
DR. HUTH: They might not be at all. Just because one thing happens after something else doesn't mean there is a connection between them. It's the old scientific adage that "correlation is not causation."
QUESTION: The government says 6.8 million Johnson & Johnson shots have been administered, and just six people have had these blood clots. With so few people affected, why was a hold put on this vaccine?
DR. HUTH: It's not so much about these six people. It's more about the fact that those six people have many similarities between them. Also, there are certain similarities to blood clot problems that have caused a number of countries to stop using the AstraZeneca vaccine, which uses similar technology.
QUESTION: Have there been adverse reactions to the other two vaccines — Pfizer and Moderna?
DR. HUTH: The FDA has a reporting system to catalogue problems that people develop after receiving any vaccine, and they encourage healthcare providers to file reports on anything out of the ordinary even if we don't think it's related. By now, they have many thousands of reports related to Pfizer and Moderna.
QUESTION: So why haven't the Pfizer and Modera vaccines been paused?
DR. HUTH: Other than low rates of severe allergic reactions in certain predisposed people, there just don't seem to be recurring themes of serious problems after Pfizer or Moderna to suggest a link. When you think about it, that's a decent track record after about 185 million doses.
QUESTION: Should this pause make me reconsider whether I should be vaccinated?
DR. HUTH: No, instead it should give you peace of mind that the safety monitoring systems are working, even if it turns out the blood clotting issue isn't significant. Pay attention to the details and understand the low level of risk. And remember, this action only affects one of the three vaccines available in the U.S. Don't deny yourself and your family the benefits of immunization.