PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released limitations to the use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine after reports of blood clots in patients.
It is common knowledge among the medical community that all medicines and treatments have their risks and/or side effects, so is there reason to worry over the J&J vaccine?
One local pharmaceutical expert said no, not really.
“The risk/benefit of receiving this Johnson & Johnson vaccine is still better than not receiving any vaccine at all,” said Jerry Storm, senior vice president of Pharmaceutical Services for OSF HealthCare.
Storm broke down the data: there were about 17 million doses of the J&J vaccine administered in the country. Out of that 17 million, there were 60 reported cases of blood clots, which were confirmed to be from the vaccine, not any other medication.
Out of those 60 patients, nine died from the side effect. That means there is a 15% mortality rate for those who get the blood clots, according to Storm.
That said, the overall risk for the average patient of getting a blood clot, Storm said, is about 0.0003%.
“So the risk is very small, but it exists. So the patient needs to make that discernment themselves,” he said.
“There’s no medicine that doesn’t have some type of adverse event or risks associated with it. And it’s the same thing with any other vaccines too. There is a mild, small risk associated with really any vaccine that you receive,” he continued.
Essentially, Storm said not getting vaccinated is riskier than getting the J&J vaccine.
“We do know, from our past two years, the mortality that’s associated with COVID-19,” Storm said.
The FDA restrictions, according to Storm, limit the vaccine’s availability to those that may be allergic to the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, which both use newer mRNA technology. It can also be for patients that specifically request it, like Denton.
“If they got needle fright, and they only want a single injection, they’d be better off getting the Johnson & Johnson rather than not getting anything at all,” he said.
One Peoria resident, Justin Denton, said he chose the J&J vaccine over the other options.
“I tend to get sick or pass out whenever I get poked with a needle, so the one dose seemed like a better option for me,” Denton said in an email to WMBD. “I did pass out after the J&J vaccine.”
He said he is nervous about the new warnings from the FDA because he inherited a blood clotting disorder that he worries “would increase the risk even more.”
“I would probably choose a different vaccine just to reduce the risk,” Denton said. “Either way, I would get vaccinated, since my mom has an autoimmune disorder that puts her at greater risk.”
Overall, though, Denton said he will not “waste time thinking about it.”
“There are far more dangerous things out there that have a greater likelihood of happening,” Denton said.
Storm said the clots are most common among women up to 50 years old. What makes this side effect unique, he said, is the location where the clots are found– in the veins where blood drains from the brain.
That differs from the blood clots associated with, for example, birth control pills. But Storm said the risk from medication like birth control is equal, if not higher, than the risk from the J&J vaccine.
Most doctors prefer the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines regardless because of their higher efficacy. Storm also noted they are not associated with any such blood clots.