Houston Health Officials Pause the Distribution of J&J Vaccine

Jo-Carolyn Goode | 4/16/2021, 8:05 a.m.
Apprehension about getting inoculated for COVID-19 has just increased in many individuals after the administration of the Johnson & Johnson ...

Apprehension about getting inoculated for COVID-19 has just increased in many individuals after the administration of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine was paused by officials of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Federal Drug Administration (FDA). Research is being done to look into the cause of six women who developed dangerous blood clots with one of them dying after having received the single-dose. Since the announcement, the Houston Health Department and many health departments of surrounding counties have followed the advice of the CDC by pausing the vaccine while an investigation is being conducted. Overall, they want to stress to the public to remain calm until more information is known.

After an expedited process to get it approved for distribution, an estimated seven million people rushed to get the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. One reason it was highly favored was that it only required one shot unlike the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines requiring two shots. Common side effects of pain, redness, and swelling at the sight of injection were reported. Symptoms of tiredness, headache, muscle pain, chills, fever, and nausea that were experienced by people were recorded too. Data collected lead to the discovery of the side effect of blood clots in these women that sent off alarms in the medical community.

The CDC is carefully researching the development of cerebral venous sinus thrombosis; a clot in the brain that affects the flow of oxygen in the blood occurred in the women between the ages of 18-48. According to CNN, the US Department of Health's Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System stated the woman who died was admitted to the hospital after complaining of "dry heaving, sudden worsening of headache and (left) sided weakness." Another woman remains in critical condition. Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has said that the FDA and CDC will look at the medical history of the women in association with the mechanisms of the J&J vaccine.

In a Houston Health Department social media post, officials note how rare these side effects are and state they are pausing the vaccine out of caution. The post goes on, “This pause and investigation is important, in part, to ensure that the health care provider community is aware of the potential for these adverse events and can plan for proper recognition and management due to the unique treatment required with this type of blood clot.”

Because the J&J vaccine is so new to the market, not too many Houstonians have received it. The city’s health department has administered 507,864 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine with 37,453 of them being Johnson & Johnson doses. No one in Houston or the state of Texas has reported any dangerous effects of the drug. People who have had any severe adverse reactions like abdominal or leg pain, headache, or shortness of breath within three weeks of being vaccinated should report them to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System at www.vaers.hhs.gov. Scheduled appointments will not be canceled. Individuals will be offered the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines instead of the J&J one.

Mayor Sylvester Turner attempted to curb any new heightens fears of getting any COVID-19 vaccine by reminding Houstonians that in April 2021 more than 50 people have died from the cornavirus.

“I would be more frightful or fearful of getting COVID,” the mayor added.

Dr. H. Dirk Sostman, president of the Academic Institute at Houston Methodist, offered the scary statistic that citizens had a 1 in 600 chance of dying from COVID.

The public is encouraged not to panic but to be diligent of any side effects that they or someone they know may experience and seek emergency help if needed.