More than half of U.S. adults have received at least one shot of the COVID-19 vaccine as one of the vaccines is paused due to complications from a few who have received it.
A major snag was hit this week as reports indicate that the Center for Disease Control and U.S. Food and Drug Administration recommended pausing the use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine after six women experienced severe blood clots with one person in critical condition and another dying.
The six women are between the ages of 18 and 48. The race of the women has not been revealed. On top of the six people, the CDC said there are now a “handful” of other cases of blood clots but hasn’t determined if the J&J vaccine is the issue.
“FDA will review that analysis as it also investigates these cases,” the FDA and CDC said in a joint statement. “Until that process is complete, we are recommending a pause in the use of this vaccine out of an abundance of caution. This is important, in part, to ensure that the health care provider community is aware of the potential for these adverse events and can plan for proper recognition and management due to the unique treatment required with this type of blood clot.”
The CDC is advising those who have received the J&J vaccine to watch out for headache, abdominal pain, leg pain, or shortness of breath. Close to 7 million people have taken the J&J vaccine so far. Along with pausing the vaccine in the U.S. rollout in Europe was delayed. On Monday, the European Union recommended putting a warning label on the J&J vaccine.
“The safety and well-being of the people who use our products is our number one priority, and we strongly support awareness of the signs and symptoms of this extremely rare event to ensure the correct diagnosis, appropriate treatment and expedited reporting by health care professionals,” said Paul Stoffels, M.D., vice chairman of the executive committee and chief scientific officer at Johnson & Johnson.
A decision from the CDC on whether or not to continue the use of the J&J vaccine is expected Friday.
The J&J vaccine has been particularly used in hard-to-reach rural and Black communities. Requiring only one shot, people don’t have to make two appointments allowing more people to get vaccinated faster. While it’s 72% effective, the J&J vaccine has been used in mobile units in urban areas.
Last month, the Black Doctors COVID-19 Consortium began offering the J&J vaccine in Philadelphia but stopped this once the CDC and FDA paused its use.
In a poll released this week by the de Beaumont Foundation, nearly one-third of voters (32%) said they would never get a J&J vaccine.
In a March poll by the Kaiser Family Foundation, 13% of respondents said they will “definitely not” get the vaccine. The top reasons were that the vaccine was developed too quickly and fears over long-term effects.
In the city, Mayor Bill de Blasio said the pause of the J&J vaccine is holding up distribution. He says he and other elected officials across the nation need answers.
“I’m not going to be surprised at all if they put some specific guidance or restrictions on who gets Johnson & Johnson and who doesn’t, that’s fine, we can work with that, but we just need answers,” he said. “And I think once we get answers that will help everything to keep moving forward.”
Currently, 5.7 million people in the city have been vaccinated at the 600 vaccinations sites in the city. Walkup appointments are now available for anyone 50 and older. Meanwhile, the daily number of people admitted to local hospitals for suspected COVID-19 was 163 patients on Monday. The seven-day average for positive COVID-19 cases was barely 2,400 at 4.19%.
As more people get vaccinated, the nation is beginning to see signs that privileges are being given to those who are vaccinated as opposed to those who are not.
One example are companies giving incentives for people who prove they are vaccinated. Krispy Kreme Doughnuts is offering a free original glazed doughnut every day for the rest of the year if they show their vaccine card. Nathan’s Famous is offering vaccinated people a free hot dog at its flagship Coney Island location. Junior’s Restaurant and Bakery is giving away a free mini cheesecake at its Brooklyn location to those who are vaccinated.
However, being vaccinated is starting to boil down to admittance. At Yankee Stadium, fans who want to attend a baseball game must show proof of vaccination or take a PCR or rapid antigen COVID-19 test with negative results.
The travel industry is also getting on the bandwagon, especially in the slowly reopening cruise industry. Celebrity Cruises, Norwegian Cruise Line, Royal Caribbean and Virgin Voyages aren’t permitting any traveler or crew member to board unless they’ve been vaccinated.
“Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings shares the CDC’s view that vaccinations are the primary vehicle for Americans to get back to their everyday lives,” said Frank Del Rio, president and chief executive officer of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd. ”We believe that through a combination of 100% mandatory vaccinations for guests and crew and science-backed public health measures we can create a safe, ‘bubble-like’ environment for guests and crew.”
The caution on cruise lines even extended to ships used during evacuation procedures in St. Vincent with the eruption of the La Soufrière volcano in the Caribbean. Only evacuees who have been vaccinated are able to board the ships to nearby islands including Barbados, Grenada, Barbados, Antigua and St. Lucia
“If people are willing to welcome you at a time of COVID-19, they will wish you to have the highest level of protection possible,” said St. Vincent and the Grenadines Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves.
The COVID-19 pandemic has gone on for over a year now. A recent survey by healthinsurence.com say nearly 56% of those polled believe COVID-19 is never going away. Nearly 6 in 10 say they’re afraid of the COVID-19 vaccine with 50% citing side effects as an issue and 20% saying because of how fast the vaccine was created.
Despite the vaccine, 67% think it’s too soon to drop mask mandates.