Recommended Pause on Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 Vaccine is Lifted

Ria Agarwal and Kaden Alibhai

A few weeks after many Greenhill faculty members and Upper School students had received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, there have been 17 individuals across the country who have developed potentially fatal blood clots from the vaccine.

Upper School math teacher John Meyers was one of the faculty members who received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

Meyers expressed that he was “not very concerned.”

One of the reasons that the Johnson & Johnson vaccine was approved was because it was single-dose and because the mRNA vaccines are hitting the market for the first time. mRNA vaccines are a new type of vaccine to protect against infectious diseases. mRNA vaccines teach our cells how to make a protein—or even just a piece of a protein—that triggers an immune response inside our bodies. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine gives people an alternative.

“I specifically looked for [the Johnson & Johnson vaccine] because it is a traditional live virus vaccine that causes you to build antibodies,” said Meyers. “I just felt more comfortable with a traditional vaccine because mRNA vaccines have not been used before.”

After news of the blood clots broke out, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) made the decision to temporarily pull the Johnson & Johnson vaccine from the market in an abundance of caution.

Since there are only three vaccine companies approved in the United States, removing one of them significantly lowered the rate at which people were getting vaccinated.

“Personally, I think we could have kept going with the vaccinations,” said Science Department Chair Treavor Kendall. “Think about the amount of people who contracted COVID-19 because the Johnson & Johnson shot was not available.”

An independent team of experts has recently decided to reintroduce the Johnson & Johnson vaccine to the market even though the cause of the blood clots has not been found.

“We have to understand that there is a risk associated with everything,” Kendall said. “I cannot think of a vaccine that has had no side effects at all.”

The majority of people who have received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine had very minimal side effects including headaches, tiredness, and soreness.

Upper School technical theater teacher Leann Burns had also chosen the J&J vaccine specifically, however, it was for the time, date, and location of the appointments available.

“The fact that it was one dose was just a bonus,” Burns said.

Burns believes that the one dose option is a necessary addition to Pfizer and Moderna because it is much more convenient for everyone.

When Burns first heard about the blood clots, she was not particularly worried. However, she was following the news closely.

“There are a lot more medications that women take which have much bigger side-effects,” she said. “People are more worried about this because it is all in our faces.”