SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - News of the pause of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine sent shockwaves across the country.
Several local doctors spoke about what this halt means and how it impacts those who have already gotten the one dose shot here locally. Here in Georgia, we have given 330,500 doses.
Vaccine clinics, like the one here on Eisenhower that were planned to use Johnson & Johnson’s one dose shot have now been reassigned to offer two doses of Pfizer and Moderna.
The Coastal Health District is following suit with the state of Georgia and the US to pause the use of J&J.
Doctors say it’s important to keep this news in context. The CDC’s decision really shows that there is a process that they are following that they have that they are looking at the data, they are being cautious, and I think that if there’s any message that we give to the patient is the system works.
SouthCoast Health leaders hope today’s news enforces the safety studies taking place for the vaccines and won’t stop people from getting a vaccine like at their new site on Georgia Southern University’s Armstrong campus. Some health leaders say the pausing of Johnson and Johnson’s vaccine could impact hesitancy.
“Any little bump in the road will tend to shake their confidence a little more, but again I think people should take comfort in the fact that the CDC and the FDA are taking this very seriously,” Coastal Health District Director Dr. Lawton Davis said.
“Really every product that comes to market we always learn something new once we start using it in many, many millions of people. We can find examples of extremely rare complications,” Memorial Health Associate Chief Medical Officer Dr. Stephen Thacker said.
While research will continue on J&J’s vaccine, leaders say the risk of blood clots from the vaccine is rare. Right now, it’s occurred at a rate of less than one in a million. Doctors say while all the cases were found in women from the ages of 18-48, the challenge will be finding out the cause, but it’s something medical professionals will be trained for now.
“How to treat these complications that they have seen so far I think is still too be determined, but it’s really clear we need to take a different approach than our standards and part of that messaging to providers, ER providers is to ask about their vaccine history specifically if you’ve had the Johnson and Johnson vaccine and then remember that the treatment for this may be different for the combination of a clot in a vein in the head and low platelets would be a red flag that this could be related,” Dr. Thacker said.
For those who have gotten the J&J vaccine in a three week window, doctors suggest you monitor yourself for severe headaches, shortness of breath or swelling of the arms or legs. If these occur you should contact your doctor, but they do again say this new found complication is rare.
“So far it’s less than one in a million, so I would say if somebody received J&J certainly over three or four weeks ago their probably good to go,” Dr. Davis said.
Despite the news of Johnson and Johnson, doctors say there are other vaccines available, and the supply is there and they recommend you get your shot.
“The message still needs to be we still need to get to the other side of this pandemic through vaccination and so we’ve got just growing and growing safety reassurance around Pfizer and the Moderna vaccines that we know that’s a safe and effective way forward,” Dr. Thacker said
Officials admit this is a challenge losing that one dose shot which helped the harder to reach populations, but even more so is what this could do to vaccine hesitancy.
They say safety however is of upmost importance so this is what’s needed right now.