Editorial: The Johnson & Johnson vaccine pause shouldn’t discourage people from being vaccinated

Biomedical engineering sophomore Sambriddhi Ghimire receives the COVID-19 vaccine from a sailor March 29 at Esports Stadium Arlington and Expo Center. 

On April 13 the Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention halted distribution of the single-shot Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine after rare blood clots called cerebral venous sinus thrombosis were reported.

The Shorthorn editorial board believes that despite the pause on distributing the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, Arlington residents and students shouldn’t be deterred from getting vaccinated against COVID-19.

Pausing the vaccine means the FDA and the CDC recommend no one receive it until scientists review the data and can make recommendations about who should receive it, according to the CDC website. This was a quick and responsible decision, which shows they care about people’s health. It would be more worrisome if they didn’t recommend halting vaccine distribution.

After further review, they will be able to improve the vaccine, make recommendations and continue rollouts. In a White House press brief, Anthony Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said it will be “days to weeks” before the vaccine is resumed.

No blood clots have been reported by anyone who has received the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccines. As of April 12, only six cases were reported out of more than 6.8 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine that have been administered in the U.S., according to a CDC and FDA statement.

All the blood clots reported affected women between the ages of 18 and 48, between six and 13 days after receiving the shot, so if you received the shot more than three weeks ago, the risk of developing blood clots is low and reduces as time passes, according to the CDC.

It’s even more important to get vaccinated as multiple new coronavirus variants have been discovered in the U.S. Data shows that currently available vaccines protect against moderate cases and health officials say they are effective at preventing severe cases, hospitalizations and deaths, according to NPR.

After both doses, clinical trials showed the Moderna vaccine was 94.1% effective, and the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine was 95% effective at preventing COVID-19, according to CDC reports.

According to NPR, CDC director Rochelle Walensky and Fauci recommend getting one of the vaccines as soon as you’re eligible to stop the spread of whatever strain is around and to lessen the development of new variants.

We need to put this into perspective. Over 550,000 people have died and over 30 million have been infected with COVID-19 since the pandemic began. Six instances of rare blood clotting complications represent a very low risk.

Cerebral venous sinus thrombosis is rare and only affects about five people out of 1 million each year, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine. Risk factors include problems with blood clots in the past, pregnancy or several weeks postpartum, cancer, collagen vascular diseases, obesity, low blood pressure in the brain or inflammatory bowel disease.

According to an FDA-funded study, three to nine women out of every 10,000 who use birth control will develop a blood clot. This rate is much higher than the six cases out of nearly 7 million who received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. A recent study from the University of Oxford reported the risk for rare blood clots after being infected with COVID-19 is several times higher than it is post vaccination.

Some argue the vaccine is too new and hasn’t been tested long enough. But the coronavirus spike protein was identified nearly 20 years ago, and the technology to develop vaccines isn’t new.

This temporary pause is a sign that regulatory agencies are working in our best interests.

COVID-19 is not like influenza and can permanently damage our health. Survivors report many significant long-term effects, such as shortness of breath, lack of focus, loss of taste or smell, headaches and in some cases kidney or heart problems. It can damage the lungs, heart and brain, leading to long-term health problems in people of all ages.

The Shorthorn editorial board encourages people to do their own research from credible sources, talk to their doctor about any concerns they have about the vaccine and remain optimistic and open-minded about getting vaccinated.

The Shorthorn Editorial Board is made up of opinion editor Katecey Harrell; Editor-in-Chief Cecilia Lenzen; associate news editor Spencer Brewer; Samantha Knowles, life and entertainment editor; sports editor Adrian Rodriguez; news reporter Thevnin Rumende; and copy editor Jill Bold.

opinion-editor.shorthorn@uta.edu

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