Resuming all vaccinations

The CDC and FDA allowing the J&J and Janssen vaccine to resume

Sean Keohane / Arts Director

The Center for Disease Control (CDC)’s decision to resume administering the single-dose Johnson & Johnson (J&J) vaccine was a crucial one considering the United State’s goal to achieve herd immunity.

The distribution of the vaccine was originally halted after six women suffered from blood clots in the brain after receiving the vaccine. One woman died and one woman was hospitalized in critical condition. However, as of April 23, 2021, the CDC and FDA have recommended that the use of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine resume in the United States. With this decision, it was made clear that women younger than 50 years old, in particular, should be aware of the rare risk of blood clots with low platelets after vaccination. Other COVID-19 vaccines are available where this risk is not as pertinent.

The transparency that has been shown regarding the risks is a positive start. Vaccination sites have started giving warnings to those who choose to receive a COVID-19 vaccine, particularly the J&J vaccine. Therefore, this briefing puts the responsibility entirely on the person choosing to get vaccinated, as it should be.

When the CDC and FDA decided to put the J&J vaccine on pause, many people became hesitant about the safety of receiving the COVID-19 vaccines, in general. This could have proven to be a very difficult roadblock for the goal of herd immunity in the United States. According to the John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, herd immunity usually occurs when 50% to 90% of a population is immune to the virus. For COVID-19, 70% of the population would need to be vaccinated and immune to the virus because of how contagious it is.

The danger with vaccine hesitancy is that, since getting vaccinated is a choice, less people are deciding to get vaccinated which means the percentage of immune people in a population is smaller. The country is getting further and further from herd immunity because of these warnings and that means a longer wait until this emergency situation is over. Bringing back the J&J vaccine, despite its risks, will help shorten the time before herd immunity is reached.

Despite the J&J vaccine being resumed, the FDA and CDC’s choice to put the vaccine on pause was ultimately a good decision. It gave the company and governmental organizations time to step back and weigh the pros and cons. If there are side effects that are resulting in a death, there should be an investigation into the cause of these deaths. However, many more people are dying each day while the country waits for the vaccines to be manufactured. With three possible vaccines, that time has been shortened and people could be saved from facing a battle with COVID-19.

It is important to decide whether the health risks that the J&J vaccine bring is worth the benefits of having another vaccine being distributed across the country. In this situation, the benefits of the J&J vaccine outweigh the medical side effects that the vaccine presents. While the side effects these six women dealt with cannot go unnoticed, the dire need for the end of the pandemic validates the CDC and FDA’s decision.

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