Johnson & Johnson vaccine pause may cause future stigmas

Lifting the pause on the Johnson & Johnson vaccines has caused differing viewpoints, but the restart of vaccinations may cause people to be concerned about future vaccine safety. 


On April 13, the FDA and CDC paused the distribution of the J&J vaccine because of fear of more blood clots in those vaccinated with it, according to the Washington Post. A little over a week later, the pause was lifted — adults can be vaccinated again with the single shot.


Although the pause was short, Director of Health Services Riane Greenwalt said putting the J&J vaccine on hold was probably the right decision. 


“I think there have been seven adverse events that happened with the J&J vaccine. In relationship to the 7 million vaccines that have been given, it seems like a very small percentage unless you’re one of those seven. Since it was such a serious adverse event, I think they were right to put in a pause,” Greenwalt said. 


Senior nursing student Jordan Wesley, of Edwardsville, said although there were some people experiencing blood clots, the pause may have been done too quickly.


“I think they were being overly cautious because it was so rare. I’m sure they didn’t really know if it was the vaccine that caused it,” Wesley said. “I understand why they paused, it because they didn’t want a high spike of people with blood clots from their vaccine.”


Wesley, who has a peanut allergy, said her doctor advised her not to get the vaccine right now, but she said she wants people to continue getting the vaccine.


“I learned about vaccines a few semesters ago and I think a lot of people [are] strictly uneducated and don’t actually know how vaccines work,” Wesley said. “From a standpoint of how I know how they work, it doesn’t scare me.” 


First-year pharmacy student Gabe Comonal, of Romeoville, Illinois, said he is afraid with the J&J vaccine having the pause, there will be more people who fall into the anti-vaccine crowd.


“They are looking to say, ‘We don’t trust vaccines and this is a reason why you shouldn’t too.’ It’s completely detrimental to the whole fight against COVID-19,” Comonal said.


Medical News Today said the second fastest vaccine to be developed was the mumps vaccine, which took four years. Comonal said because of the quick turnaround for the COVID-19 vaccine, many people who haven’t been vaccinated are questioning whether the vaccine was rushed. 


“Normally it takes years and years to get them into widespread public use. [The CDC] wants to make sure of the efficacy and safety … and make sure no one is suffering side effects, like blood clots. I believe the people who were on the fence initially are more likely to wait for more people to get it and see how they fare in everyday life,” Comonal said.


With a lot of information out about the COVID-19 vaccine, Greenwalt said everyone should speak with a healthcare provider before deciding what is best for them.


“If you look at Moderna, Pfizer and even the J&J vaccine before the pause – they have had a positive impact on the disease,” Greenwalt said. “I would encourage anyone that is on the fence to number one, either talk to their pharmacists, or talk to their physician about their concerns so they can be addressed individually. I don’t think there is a standard concern.”


SIUE originally planned on using the J&J vaccine at the Student Fitness Center vaccine clinic, but Greenwalt said they switched the vaccine because of the pause.


“Once there was the pause put in, we pivoted to the Pfizer vaccine,” Greenwalt said. “[Madison County] had plenty of Pfizer vaccines available in order to do that.”


For more vaccine information, visit the CDC’s website or Madison County Health Department’s website.

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