In the United States, it’s all about choices, and the coronavirus vaccine is no exception. While we may not have total control over which vaccine we get, based on the supply where we live, we do have options. In fact, until just a couple days ago we had three COVID-19 vaccine options that were authorized by the FDA: Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson.
At this moment, the FDA and the CDC have “paused” the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine. And it looks like the pause won’t be lifted for at least 10 days. Here are some quick stats about what you need to know.
As of April 12th, 6.8 million U.S. citizens had received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
The week before, a record number of the J&J vaccine was shipped around the country in anticipation of administering the vaccine to even more people.
On April 13th, the FDA recommended the U.S. stop using the Johnson & Johnson COVID vaccine.
An ongoing investigation revealed that patients who received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine experienced serious cases of blood clotting issues. One of them was fatal. Although these problems are rare occurrences considering that nearly 7 million doses of the vaccine were already administered, officials are concerned that increased use of the vaccine could lead to the discovery of a higher number of serious – or fatal – cases.
All of the serious health issues occurred in women who received the vaccine.
The blood clotting complications occurred in women between the ages of 18 and 48. Within two weeks of being vaccinated, the women developed blood clots and low levels of platelets in their blood. Apparently, this is an odd combination of health problems that typically don’t occur simultaneously. In severe cases, the women developed cerebral venous sinus thrombosis (CVST), in which blood clots occur in the brain. Other women experienced blood clots in their limbs or lungs.
On April 14th, the CDC advisory panel delayed their decision to recommend the Johnson & Johnson vaccine on a limited basis.
Members of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices – which advises the CDC – didn’t feel like they had enough information about the vaccine’s benefits and risks to be able to recommend its use on patients in restricted age groups. Therefore, they chose not to vote on recommending the COVID vaccine until enough information becomes available.
How does this impact herd immunity?
The dilemma some members of the advisory committee struggled with is how pausing the Johnson & Johnson vaccine will impact the number of U.S. citizens, and those in other countries, who can receive the vaccine. One health professional declared the decision to pause the vaccine “devastating” to high-risk populations, such as homebound patients.
The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is the easiest of the three to store, as it only requires normal refrigeration, therefore making it the most transportable way to get people in rural areas and other hard to reach locations vaccinated. It also only requires one dose instead of two shots spaced weeks apart, like the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines.
As a healthcare professional, you want to stay informed and keep your patients informed – especially when there’s new information available about the COVID vaccines, or any other concern that could impact their health. A great way to do that is through newsletters, emails, and texts.
Download our this informative guide to learn more about patient communication: