It’s official: every adult in the United States is now eligible to receive the COVID vaccine. While younger demographics still have to wait, everyone over the age of 18 can now receive the vaccine, whether it’s Pfizer, Moderna or Johnson & Johnson.
Over half of Americans have now received at least their first dose of the vaccine, but there are still concerns that are in the air.
Recently, distribution of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine was temporarily put on pause after a few people that received it came down with a set of rare blood clots.
While uncommon, these blood clots have been seen in more than one occasion, with a handful of women in Australia developing similar blood clots after being given the AstraZeneca vaccine.
In the United States, six women between the ages of 18 and 48 developed blood clots after receiving the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. One person died and another is in critical condition, according to the Food and Drug Administration.
While the pause has since been lifted, some believe that an explicit warning should be administered to women under the age of 50, since this was the group that developed the clots.
Leana Wen, former health commissioner of Baltimore and contributing columnist for the Washington Post, is part of this group.
“I’m also a participant in the Johnson & Johnson clinical trial who was told that I’d received the placebo,” said Wen.
“I then opted to get the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. If I knew then what I know now, I would have chosen the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines instead.”
Despite the concerns, the clots are extremely rare, as over 6.8 million people have received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
However, there have been no cases of these clots developing in people that received the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines.
The six people that developed the blood clots began showing symptoms between 6 and 13 days after vaccination, according to the FDA and CDC. They developed a type of blood clot in the brain called a cerebral venous sinus thrombosis, or CVST, as well as low levels of blood platelets.
Those who received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine are still advised to watch for side effects such as severe headaches, abdominal pain, or shortness of breath.
Even with these precautions, Wen remains weary. According to her Washington Post article, if you broaden the amount of blood clot cases in the United States to include those with regular blood clots, there were a total of 15 cases among those who received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, all which were women under the age of 50.
“If there were no alternatives, the benefits of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine would surely outweigh the risks. But that’s not the case,” said Wen.
“Why not issue a warning that advises women under 50 to receive one of these two other vaccines instead?”
To Wen, safety is the more important thing to consider with these cases. “In many parts of the United States, vaccine supply already exceeds demand,” said Wen. “People should be empowered to decide which vaccine to get based on the risks, benefits and alternatives. For younger women, the CDC needs to be much more explicit to warn them against the Johnson & Johnson vaccine based on the very rare but very severe risk associated with it and, critically, to direct them to alternatives that don’t carry this risk at all. After all of the emphasis federal health officials put on prioritizing safety, it’s what we should expect from them.”
If you have not received your COVID vaccine yet, be sure to look at your local health centers and find out when you can receive it. The second half of the vaccine clinic on campus will take place May 4, so do your part to get vaccinated so that we can get one step closer to a COVID-free world.