Johnson & Johnson Vaccine On Pause

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On April 13, United States federal health officials called for a pause in the distribution and use of Johnson and Johnson’s Covid-19 vaccine. 

Over seven million Americans have received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine so far, but injections came to a halt after federal health agencies cited six cases of a rare blood-clotting disorder.  

“We are recommending a pause in the use of this vaccine out of an abundance of caution,” said Dr. Peter Marks, director of the Food and Drug Administration’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research. 

All of those who developed the illness were women between the ages of 18 and 48 who noticed issues in the weeks following their vaccination. 

While federal health officials seem to have the country’s best interest in mind, their call to pause distribution prompted a debate among public health experts as to whether protecting Americans from this rare disorder is worth putting more people at risk of Covid-19. 

Thousands of vaccine appointments were cancelled this week out of caution, but officials worry that fueling hesitancy towards the vaccine could put more Americans at risk. On the other hand, some believe that ignoring possible side effects would have created further complications. 

“It’s incredibly challenging, but to ignore it would have been worse,” said Rachael Piltch-Loeb of the N.Y.U. School of Global Public Health.

Currently, scientists are examining links between the vaccine and blood-clotting disorder to determine whether the vaccine should continue to be used for emergency purposes or if it should be limited to specific population groups. 

The news of the vaccination pause comes at a time of desperate need, as many states are facing surges in Covid-19 cases. 

The Biden administration continues to assure citizens that they will have enough doses to give to every American who wants to be vaccinated by the end of May. 

“There is enough vaccine, that is basically 100 percent unquestionable, for every single, solitary American,” Biden insisted earlier this month. 

As Johnson & Johnson rollout is halted, more Americans are planning to use vaccines from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna, the companies that make up the majority of the nation’s vaccine stock. 

These vaccines are composed of slightly different ingredients than that of Johnson & Johnson, and utilized different technology in their production. 

Over 180 million doses of Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna have been administered across the country with no evidence of blood clots or complications that could create safety concerns. 

Outside of the United States, Johnson & Johnson is planning to delay rollout in areas including Europe and South Africa. Australia confirmed it would not purchase any doses of the vaccine.