Making sense of the misconceptions surrounding the Johnson & Johnson vaccine

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Zach Gilbert
NEWS EDITOR

The Johnson & Johnson vaccine has courted controversy as of late after being taken out of distribution by the CDC and FDA due to its potential correlation to blood clot issues, but is it really as dangerous as many have come to believe? Photo courtesy of Reuters.

On April 13, 2021, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) put a temporary freeze on the distribution of the Johnson & Johnson-made COVID-19 vaccine, citing “six serious cases of [blood] clotting problems” among those who were inoculated.

“We are recommending a pause in the use of this vaccine out of an abundance of caution,” said Dr. Peter Marks, director of the FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research. “Right now, these adverse events appear to be extremely rare.”

These clotting problems appeared in six women, all of whom were between the ages of 18 and 48. Naturally, such news sparked many worries about the safety of ongoing inoculation against coronavirus, but STAT News quickly put things into perspective, noting how 6.8 million doses of the single-dose vaccine had been given out as of April 12, and only six individuals had encountered this “blood clotting” – or, 0.0000009% of all who had been treated thus far.

Furthermore, Johnson & Johnson soon specified that, “at present, [there is] no clear causal relationship [that] has been established between these rare events and the Janssen COVID-19 vaccine,” despite the very minor correlation that had been observed. Nonetheless, company spokesman Jake Sargent assured that Johnson & Johnson would “continue to work closely with experts and regulators to assess the data and support the open communication of this information to healthcare professions and the public.”

To allay the public’s anxieties, many were also quick to point out that, according to the National Blood Clot Alliance, 1 in 1,000 women who take birth control are likely to develop blood clots as a side effect. Given that those odds are much higher than the ones stated for recipients of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, it became clear just how uncommon these blood clots truly were.

One American – Lisa Pollan, of Peoria, Arizona – shared her personal experience with Johnson & Johnson vaccine with us, explaining the entire procedure and conveying her thoughts on this latest controversy.

“I received my Johnson & Johnson vaccine on April 6,” Pollan said. “The Johnson & Johnson vaccine was the only one being offered in my city at the time, but even if I didn’t have a choice, I would’ve preferred it over Pfizer or Moderna, simply because it was only a single dose.”

Though Pollan did describe initial pain in her arm upon receiving her vaccine (at around 2:15 p.m.), these physical ailments dissipated over the course of a day.

“The actual shot hurt really bad, but that only lasted about 10 minutes,” Pollan said. “I felt fine afterwards and throughout the rest of the day. I slept well, and the only additional pain I had was centered around the area in my arm where I had been vaccinated, and that only lasted for about two more days.”

Thankfully, Pollan never experienced any serious sickness in the time that followed.

“I was really lucky that I didn’t have any side effects,” Pollan said.

She also maintains that her view of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine has not been swayed by any recent news coverage.

“I would have still gotten the Johnson & Johnson vaccine even after these potential blood clot issues were revealed,” Pollan said. “I completely trust the company and always felt safe throughout my entire inoculation.”

Though this is just one woman’s opinion, many other Americans have chimed in on social media with their own similar positive experiences with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, working to fight back many of the fears that have cropped up due to sensationalist storytelling in the media.

Going forward, the CDC and FDA have confirmed that they will continue to work with Johnson & Johnson to bring this vaccine back to the public at large, assuring the country that they will not administer any medication that would put citizens at risk.

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