The Vaccine Trilogy: Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson

By Lisa Rose-Rodriguez, M.P.H. University of Connecticut

The last vaccine to come to the market by Johnson & Johnson was paused by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).  Patients who received the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines had to have two shots. Ironically the one-shot version, Johnson & Johnson manufactured, is the one that was paused due to an unusual complication. Many people in the general public were glad once the Johnson and Johnson vaccine became available. People who hate needles could make an appointment and receive just one dose. Furthermore, hospitals and other health care providers no longer had to work about storing the vials at -25°C and -15°C (-13°F and 5°F). Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine Information | CDC

The New York Times reported on the complication believed to be caused by the ‘one shot ‘version:

Injections of Johnson & Johnson’s coronavirus vaccine came to a sudden halt across the country on Tuesday, April 13,2021 after federal health agencies called for a pause in the vaccine’s use as they examine a rare blood-clotting disorder that emerged in six recipients.

All six were women between the ages of 18 and 48, and all developed the illness within one to three weeks of vaccination. One woman in Virginia died, and a second woman in Nebraska has been hospitalized in critical condition.”

According to that article, 7 million have received this vaccine type so far. In terms of math this means that the recorded adverse action is statistically insignificant. This number is calculated by dividing: 6/7,000,000 = .000000086. This means that the event is so rare that it may not be consistent with a pattern.

However, as an epidemiologist that has worked in the area of health care communications for decades, I can see why Dr. Fauci and others have chosen to manage information that could result in misinformation and suspicion over the Johnson and Johnson vaccine in particular and vaccines in general. Blood clotting as a side effect had not been reported as an adverse reaction for those who received the Moderna or Pfizer vaccine. The symptoms I had after receiving the second dose at the Hough Health Center in March were consistent with the larger trend, muscle soreness and tiredness.

See the CDC website for other symptoms, but none of them have been reported as life threatening as of the writing of this article for the Moderna or Pfizer vaccines.

Do vaccines mean the pandemic is over? NO.

The coronavirus pandemic will not end without improved vaccine availability worldwide. Eventually this will develop into what is known as herd immunity. COVID-19 data on this is still emerging. A good rule of thumb would be to vaccinate 80% to 90% of those at risk for infection. At those numbers the disease transmission rate would be greatly reduced, fewer people would be exposed to the virus and that would reduce new cases.

Remember when you went on those long road trips with your parents? And those of us over 50 were sitting in the back of the station wagon saying: Are we there yet?

No, this vaccine journey will take years.

This site tracks the number of vaccines given worldwide. Vaccination tracker



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