By Antonio R. Harvey | OBSERVER Staff Writer
During a news briefing highlighting critical information about COVID-19 vaccinations, Dr. Nadine Burke-Harris, the Surgeon General of California, provided more insight to why Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine was briefly suspended by federal health agencies.
Dr. Burke-Harris said it’s not uncommon that rare side effects from a vaccine would emerge and that the “process of the halt of the J&J vaccine is the system working exactly the way that it should.”
“One of the things that is important for people to understand is that with any medical intervention, medication, vaccine, or drug there are occasionally rare side effects,” said Dr. Burke-Harris. “That’s what the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) and FDA (Food and Drug Administration) were investigating.”
Dr. Burke-Harris said the CDC and FDA were able to do a “deep evaluation” of the risk on the individual level and population where they determined that the benefits exceed the risk.
Six women out of about 7 million people in the United States who had received the J&J vaccine suffered blood clots in the brain. Each of the cases were women of childbearing age, between 18 and 48. But one of the women, a 45-year-old from Virginia died.
Many African Americans in the state of California were opting for the J&J vaccine because it only took one dose compared to the two shots required by Pfizer and Moderna.
After CDC and the FDA’s investigation, the J&J vaccine is back on the market. Dr. Burke-Harris, who said she received the J&J product, said the choice of what vaccine to take is still up to the individual.
“The most important thing is to get vaccinated — that’s what I would say,” Dr. Burke-Harris said.
“I was able myself to take the J&J vaccine and I was grateful for its convenience. But the most important thing is that people feel good about the choice that they are making.”
Hosted by California Black Media, the virtual briefings aim to equip journalists with quality data and new insights that will enable them to continue providing their readers with up-to-date COVID-19 vaccines information.
Vaccinations have led to California leading the way with the “lowest case #COVID-19 case rate in the nation,” Gov. Gavin Newsom posted on his Twitter account on May 2. The state’s plans for reopening and business updates for African American communities across California were also discussed during the third installment of the briefings.
The state is expecting to fully reopen in mid-June.
“I am hoping that Californians are thinking that sense of hope, that sense of excitement as we are able to start getting back to some of the things we missed doing for a long time,” Dr. Burke-Harris said. “I think it would be good for our health. Another thing about this pandemic is that it’s been tough psychologically and emotionally. It has taken a toll on our mental health.”
For more information on the vaccine distribution process, visit www.covid19.ca.gov.