Alabama health leaders respond to new warning for Johnson & Johnson vaccine

Published: Jul. 13, 2021 at 9:53 PM CDT
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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WAFF) - Another warning is on the list for the Johnson and Johnson COVID-19 vaccine.

We told you months ago the FDA halted usage over reported cases of blood clots. Now, the concern is a rare nerve syndrome. About 100 cases of the nerve syndrome, Guillain-Barré, have been reported.

But keep in mind, that’s out of the nearly 13 million doses administered of the J&J vaccine nationwide.

The vaccine has not been halted, you can still get a shot and health leaders want to stress how rare this is.

The Food and Drug administration added the warning to the Johnson and Johnson vaccine, saying it could increase your risk of Guillain-Barré syndrome. It’s a very rare neurological disorder that causes the immune system to damage nerve cells, causing muscle weakness.

“You have to stop short of saying there’s a cause and effect there. We really need to look at the data. I mean overall, this is an extremely rare occurrence. I mean if you look at 100 cases compared to the millions and millions of doses of vaccine that have been given,” Dr. Karen Landers said.

Dr. Karen Landers with the Alabama Department of Public Health says much more research needs to be done, and she’ll be waiting on new guidance from the committee on immunization practices.

She also wants to remind you, there have been no warnings added to the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines.

“It also gives people the opportunity to be aware that they may want to select a different vaccine. We have given a lot more Pfizer and Moderna in Alabama than J&J just because of supply,” Landers said.

According to the CDC, most of the cases reported for this warning have been men 50 years and older, about two weeks after the shot.

Phillip Chenault, who lives in Decatur, got the Johnson and Johnson vaccine months ago.

“I feel better getting the shot than not getting the shot,” he said.

He says the benefits far outweigh the risks.

“I recommend getting the vaccine. I live by faith too, I’m a Christian. The good lord put doctors here and medical research,” Chenault explained.

The Alabama Department of Public Health published data, showing 96 percent of COVID-19 deaths since March have been people who are unvaccinated.

Dr. Landers adds hospitalizations, percent positivity and cases are trending in the wrong direction.

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