Amarillo health experts weigh in on Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine pause

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AMARILLO, Texas (KFDA) - In a city news conference, Amarillo health experts weighed in on the joint recommendation made by the FDA and CDC to pause the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine due to health concerns earlier this month.

The news came after six cases of blood clots were reported in those who received the vaccine. At the time the pause was announced, close to seven million people had received the vaccine.

Dr. Brian Weis, the chief medical officer at Northwest Texas Healthcare System, said this serious response for such a small number of cases demonstrates how carefully COVID-19 vaccines are being monitored.

“What an amazing surveillance system we have that we detected six clots out of seven million vaccines. Unbelievable...it makes me feel safer,” said Dr. Weis. “If you look at Moderna and Pfeizer, we’ve seen no concerns out of the same surveillance system.”

Dr. Weis encouraged vaccination efforts to get a “step ahead” of COVID-19 variants as they continue to appear in the United States.

“Right now there are over 60 variants described worldwide,” said Dr. Weis. “This is critical. The more that we can get vaccinated and the less we can let this virus reproduce, the less mutations it can produce and get around these vaccines.”

Dr. Michael Lamanteer, chief medical officer for BSA, said the cases involving blood clots were a curiosity that require further evaluation.

He also said the research should look at whether or not those individuals had a higher-risk profile for blood clots, such as the use of certain medications or genetics.

As the investigation is underway, Dr. Lamanteer said the chief concern for community members should still be the risk of becoming infected with COVID-19 and the possibility of long-term side effects.

“The concern should be, are you going to be infected with COVID-19, is it going to be one of these variants potentially, is it going to be a strain that has the likelihood of causing more severe disease,” said Dr. Michael Lamanteer, chief medical officer for BSA. “I really think it is critical to think about your own station and again evaluate why you would not get vaccinated and attempt to use a scientific approach to making that determination.”

Two COVID-19 vaccines are still available in the U.S. due to Emergency Use Authorization granted by the FDA.

Those interested in receiving either the Moderna or Pfeizer COVID-19 vaccine can find locations here.

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