The Safe Return of the Johnson & Johnson Vaccine: What You Should Know
Two weeks ago, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) and U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommended that rollout of the Johnson & Johnson (J&J) one-shot COVID-19 vaccine resume after a temporary pause. The pause – which followed reports of six people suffering extremely rare cases of blood clots after receiving the shot – was a step taken out of an extreme abundance of caution. But should we be worried about the vaccine's safety? Experts say that with nearly 7 million people already having gotten a J&J shot, chances are less than one in a million this severe reaction could happen. The benefits of being vaccinated against COVID-19 far outweigh the risks, and what’s more, the potential health complications of actually contracting the COVID-19 virus are much more severe and widespread.
With Such a Small Number of People Affected, Why the Major Pause?
It may seem extreme to have halted the distribution of the J&J COVID-19 vaccine when only a handful of people out of nearly 7 million developed a blood clot, but many doctors say it’s truly a testament to how committed the CDC and FDA are to providing safe and effective immunizations for the public. “Acting quickly and pausing the J&J rollout temporarily was a very responsible thing to do,” says Joseph Sellers, MD, physician executive for Bassett Medical Group. “It shows just how dedicated these organizations are to protecting the public. It gives me great reassurance that every step taken is being accomplished with the proper processes, thoughtfulness, and attention to detail and safety.”
Should I Lean Towards Getting Pfizer or Moderna to be Extra Safe?
Experts are confident that all the COVID-19 vaccines currently available in the U.S. – Pfizer (two shots), Moderna (two shots), and J&J (one shot) are effective at preventing COVID-19 and safe overall. All eligible people should receive the vaccine that becomes accessible to them first, including the J&J shot for those 18 and older. During J&J’s pause, medical and scientific teams at the CDC and FDA examined all available data to assess the risks, and a thorough review showed that the J&J shot has far more known benefits than risks. “Safety is our top priority,” says Janet Woodcock, MD, acting FDA commissioner. “We are confident that [the J&J vaccine] continues to meet our standards for safety, effectiveness, and quality. We recommend that people with questions about which vaccine is right for them should have a discussion with their health care provider.”
We’re in this Together
Getting your COVID-19 vaccine is more important than ever. It’s still vital that everyone who is eligible makes an appointment as soon as they can. “I’ve been telling my patients that getting their vaccine is the kindest thing they can do for themselves, their loved ones, and their fellow community members,” says
Dr. Sellers. “There’s no need to wait. We’re making amazing progress and we have to keep our eyes on the prize.”