Wisconsin health officials highlight vaccine safety amid J&J pause

Posted at 6:19 PM, Apr 13, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-13 19:19:35-04

MILWAUKEE — There is concern that the recent Johnson & Johnson vaccine development could have a negative impact on confidence in the vaccine, but local health officials are continuing to highlight vaccine safety in communities where people are still hesitant.

"We've had millions and millions of people who received their vaccines, who are fully vaccinated, who are doing perfectly well," said Samroz Jakvani.

Epidemiologist for the Jefferson County Health Department, Samroz Jakvani, says that while reports show six women have developed severe blood clots after getting the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, the likelihood of that happening to others is very low.

"This is an extremely rare occurrence. Your odds of experiencing that side effect is less than one in 1 million," said Jakvani.

However, Tuesday's announcement has prompted several states including Wisconsin to put a pause on administering the vaccine, out of an abundance of caution.

"They want to make sure that the doctors and doctors' offices know how to identify this potential risk. Number two, be able to diagnose it, number three treat it, and then lastly be able to report it," said Tito Izard M.D., CEO of Milwaukee Health Services Inc.

But as Wisconsin continues to battle the issue of vaccine hesitancy, health officials say it's even more critical now to get accurate information about the vaccine out to communities of color.

"I certainly wouldn't let this one issue prevent you from getting vaccinated or prevent you from having any interest in at least learning more about the data that exists," said Jakvani.

So far in the state of Wisconsin, more than 160,000 people have gotten the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. More than 2 million people have received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

Health officials are urging people not to rule out getting one of the other two vaccines for now instead of Johnson & Johnson.

"What the FDA is saying is look, we have two really effective vaccines that we don't have these concerns for. So, let's take some time, let's pause on the Johnson & Johnson front, but let's keep vaccinating with these other ones," said Dr. Matt Anderson, the senior medical director for primary care at UW Health.

Those who've received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine are being asked to contact their health care provider immediately if they've developed any symptoms, including severe headaches, abdominal pain, leg pain, or shortness of breath.

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