Bay Area health officials OK resuming shots

Bay Area health officials OK resuming shots

Bay Area health officials will resume administering the Johnson & Johnson vaccine after the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention agreed on Friday that its benefits outweigh the risk of rare blood clots linked to the vaccine.

Health officers from Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Napa, San Francisco, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, and Solano counties and the City of Berkeley agreed on Sunday to continue inoculating patients with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine just two days after the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention voted to recommend resuming use of the vaccine for individuals 18 years and older.

Administration of the one-dose vaccine was paused on April 13 after the FDA found six reported cases of women who developed a rare blood clot after receiving the vaccine.

The CDC said it has learned of 15 cases of the rate blood clotting condition called thrombocytopenia syndrome. All of the cases have been women, and 13 have been in women under the age of 50. Three of them have died and seven remain in the hospital, according to reports from CNN. 

Despite the risk, Bay Area health officials said in a joint statement that the risk of developing the rate clotting disorder is “extremely low.” According to the CDC, there have been only 15 confirmed cases among nearly 8 million total doses administered in the US. That translates to a risk of less than 2 cases per million doses of vaccine, and seven cases among women between 18 and 49 years old.

In contrast, the risk of dying from a confirmed case of COVID-19 is 1 in 56, according to the statement.

The region’s health officers said they support including a warning label on the vaccine as well as handing out “culturally and linguistically appropriate informational materials in an accessible reading level” so that members of the public can make “informed decisions.” Since the vaccine was paused, there are about 9 million shots available nationwide.

“The public is strongly urged to get vaccinated as soon as possible,” the statement reads. “All vaccines are proven to be highly effective at preventing hospitalization or death from COVID-19, and people who are fully vaccinated are also much less likely to be contagious or transmit the virus to someone else. The longer you wait to get vaccinated, the greater the risk of contracting COVID-19, and infecting a friend, loved one, or coworker.”

The statement says that people who have received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine should contact their primary healthcare provider if they have concerns or if they develop severe symptoms of headache, abdominal pain, leg pain or shortness of breath within three weeks after vaccination.

“COVID-19 vaccine safety is a top priority for the Bay Area’s Health Officers, and we will continue to monitor the situation and look to the CDC for any additional future guidance,” officials said.

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