Vaccine: Health officials say the J&J vaccine has benefits that are greater than its risks. Courtesy image

After a 10 day pause of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, the County has resumed its use in line with the FDA’s recommendation and is confident that the data strongly supports this decision.

While some people are hesitant to receive a Johnson & Johnson shot due to rare reports of blood clots in women, officials assured residents that all three approved vaccines are very safe.

“I’m really happy to hear about the CDC guidance to resume the administration of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine,” said Supervisor Hilda Solis. “After a very comprehensive safety analysis our nation’s top scientists and experts have come to the conclusion that the benefits of the vaccine far outweigh the extremely minimal risk.”

During the FDA and CDC’s review period they found a total of 15 women who experienced this type of clotting known as Thrombosis Thrombocytopenia Syndrome. According to health studies of similar clotting disorders, nine out of ten people make a full recovery when clotting is detected early.

“In this case forewarned is forearmed,” said County Director of Public Health, Barbara Ferrer. “One positive consequence of this very public vaccine safety assurance process is that patients now know to be on the lookout for early signs or symptoms of this very rare clotting disorder one to three weeks after vaccination.”

These symptoms include leg swelling, bruising or blood spots under the skin, persistent abdominal pain, persistent headaches, blurred vision, and chest pain. Anyone experiencing these symptoms after vaccination should contact a doctor.

While in extreme or untreated cases TTS could result in death, FDA, CDC, and County officials agree that the benefit of continuing vaccination far outweighs its risks.

For women ages 18 to 49, the risk of TTS was 13 cases per one million vaccinations. Meanwhile these million vaccinations would prevent 12 deaths, 127 ICU admissions, and 657 hospitalizations.

The benefits for women over 50 were even greater. The risk of TTS for women in this age group was two cases per one million vaccinations, which would prevent 593 deaths, 1,292 ICU admissions and 4,794 hospitalizations.

The resumption of Johnson & Johnson vaccines will be helpful in increasing L.A. County’s vaccination rate which dropped by around 16 percent during the pause.

So far L.A. County has administered over 6.6 million vaccines and 4.4 million people are fully vaccinated. Almost 50 percent of residents age 16 and older have received at least one dose.

Officials warned that 280,000 people are on record as overdue for their second Moderna or Pfizer dose appointment.

Ferrer speculated that many people have forgotten their second appointment or do not wish to receive it either because they fear the side effects or feel that the first dose gives them sufficient protection.

Additionally, some of this number reflects people who receive a dose outside of L.A. County that therefore isn’t registered in the County’s system.

“While one dose does offer some protection, it’s not as strong a level of protection as what two doses offers,” said Ferrer. “So if you’re overdue for your second dose come back to us and let’s together spread better health throughout the calendar.”

Clara@smdp.com