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Local experts talk fallout from J&J vaccine pause

Published: Apr. 13, 2021 at 9:21 PM EDT
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - Tuesday’s announcement from the FDA about the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is sparking a wave of debate and lots of questions.

What should you do if you just received the J&J shot? And could this increase vaccine hesitancy among those on the fence about getting any vaccine?

If you received the J&J shot recently, the CDC says to keep a close eye on your health for three weeks. Watch for a sharp headache, abdominal pain, leg pain, and shortness of breath, and call your doctor if you experience any of those symptoms.

FSU College of Medicine’s Dr. Christie Alexander says the reports of clots in the brain, found in six women among the nearly 7 million recipients of the shot, is incredibly rare.

But she’s glad federal officials are taking a closer look.

“My first reaction was good,” she said. “I’m glad they’re pulling it, so we can find out exactly what is going on here.”

Dr. Alexander says the clots are serious, but need to be put in context, explaining that other common situations carry similar risks.

“The numbers are much lower than we see in the general population, or in women who take oral contraceptive pills, or in pregnancy, or in COVID-19 itself,” she said.

University of Florida Associate Professor of Infectious Disease Dr. Kartik Cherabuddi also agrees with Tuesday’s shelving of the vaccine.

“In my opinion, this is the better way to do it,” he said.

He argues a quick and transparent action benefits everyone.

“If they don’t address it head on, the rumors are going to spread,” he said.

But some critics point that misinformation- or vaccine hesitancy- could grow with the news.

Reverend R.B. Holmes has been working weeks to help minority communities in Tallahassee gain access to the vaccines, and the facts that come along with it.

He said he listens to the experts, and understands the need to make sure it’s safe. He understands folks may be scared by the process.

“Human nature is going to respond to this pause,” he said.

But Rev. Holmes said he will keep working to give folks a clear picture of the vaccine rollout, no matter what speed bumps he encounters.

“We’ll continue to educate, and engage, and communicate, and tell the folks the truth.”

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