After reports of 6 women forming dangerous blood clots likely connected to the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, the FDA urged states to “pause” usage of the one-dose treatment. Some health experts are questioning whether it was on overreaction since nearly 7 million doses have been administered.
Federal agencies overseeing vaccine research and distribution urged a pause in the use of Johnson & Johnson’s one-dose coronavirus vaccine after a handful of recipients experienced blood clots likely related to the vaccine.
- The pause in distribution and use, which has received praise and criticism from doctors, comes after six women, out of 7 million Americans vaccinated with the one-dose treatment, were reported to have serious blood clots.
- The announcement about the Johnson & Johnson vaccine could be a setback in “public confidence” about coronavirus vaccination as the Biden administration has been pushing vaccines for all Americans.
- AP News provided suggestions for those who received the Johnson & Johnson shot, separating common side effects and more severe symptoms of a negative reaction.
- Some comparisons have been made on the likelihood of blood clots between the Johnson & Johnson vaccine and birth control pills, prompting health experts to note the differences between the severity and type of blood clots.
Beyond The Headlines
- Reuters took the news as an opportunity to break down the type, commonality, and severity of side effects for all coronavirus vaccines, saying European regulators found a similar link between blood clots and the AstraZeneca vaccine, which has not been approved for emergency use in the United States.
- Alarmist coverage at the beginning of the week focused on a report from Israel showing a few people having succumbed to the “South African variant” despite reaching full immunity via the Pfizer shots. The New York Times Opinion section ran a piece by an expert in molecular medicine saying virus variants are normal and not always dangerous.
- Coverage died with little notice that the study was small nor was it peer reviewed, even receiving a rebuke from Dr. Anthony Fauci, who many on the right consider the ultimate alarmist. Experts have criticized the angle of this reporting as scare-mongering.
- Alarmism and the unwillingness by the media to “keep risks in perspective” are part of a larger problem of fear being the greatest threat at this stage, with Axios noting federal regulators did NOT say “the Johnson & Johnson vaccine’s risk outweighs its benefits” and that the coverage of the announcement hides the fact that many “other common medications” carry far greater risks for blood clots.
- The New York Times’ article on the pause opened with alarmism while giving way for the Biden administration to pat itself on the back and minimize the debate among health experts who are concerned the move may have been an overreaction.
- Vice joined skeptics of the move with a comparison between the threat of blood clots with the Johnson & Johnson shot and hormonal birth control medication, while later in their article providing the rationale for the FDA’s announcement: that traditional blood clot treatment could actually be dangerous given the type of clot resulting from the J&J shot.
- Vox’s deep dive on the topic provided a surprisingly balanced and nuanced view, noting Johnson & Johnson’s woes have not started with this development and giving more details than all traditional media have on the specifics and difficulties of the “cerebral venous sinus thrombosis” blood clot that has occurred in these 6 women.
- Newsmax interviewed Kentucky Sen Rand Paul, who is also a physician, on covid vaccines in general, in which he said “if I was 80 years old, I would take the Johnson & Johnson shot right now” and that those who are high risk should take “whatever vaccine you get your hands on”, echoing sentiments of other doctors and health experts.
- Fox News’ coverage led with commentary from their media critic Howard Kurtz questioning the FDA’s announcement and highlighting comments from former President Trump disparaging his successor’s lack of control over the bureaucracy.
- Townhall highlighted the criticism from polling analyst Nate Silver and actual doctors, saying the move to pause J&J vaccine use was “a disaster” and that the odds of blood clots from the vaccine are rare compared to oral contraceptives and instances of blood clots as a result of COVID-19 hospitalization.
© Dallas Gerber, 2021