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After the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced a recommendation to pause the distribution of Johnson & Johnson’s (J&J) COVID-19 vaccine on April 13, Quinnipiac University students who received this vaccine said they do not regret getting it.
The CDC’s announcement came after six cases of a rare and severe type of blood clot were reported in people who received the J&J vaccine. The incidents occurred six to 13 days after vaccination in women between the ages of 18 and 48.
On April 23, the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices is set to meet to discuss the future of the J&J vaccine.
“If you’re in the first, let’s say, two weeks after receiving it, I would just be alert to some of the symptoms — a headache, limb weakness, you can look up some of the other specifics — but to be alert to those symptoms so that you could get evaluated quickly and taken care of properly,” said Dr. David Hill, senior medical adviser of Quinnipiac’s COVID-19 task force. “And if you’re beyond those two weeks, I really wouldn’t worry.”
All Quinnipiac students became eligible to receive their COVID-19 vaccines on April 1. Due to J&J’s one-dose process as opposed to Pfizer and Moderna’s two doses, many students opted to receive the J&J vaccine to ensure they would be fully vaccinated by the end of the semester.
John Marsh, a junior finance major and New York native, chose to receive the J&J vaccine so he wouldn’t need to return to Connecticut after the semester ends to receive a second dose.
“I was indifferent at first as to which vaccine I was receiving, however, I was very thrilled to hear that I would at least receive a shot before the summer,” Marsh said.
Marsh said he was startled by the news of the pause in distribution of the J&J vaccine at first, but after looking into it, he was not worried.
“There have been only six cases out of the total 6.8 million doses that have been (issued) throughout the globe,” Marsh said. “That is a very small percentage, and these blood clot cases may not even be linked to the vaccine. There may be other factors weighing in on why this is occurring, such as other medication that those individuals are dealing with, as well as what prior medical issues those individuals may have had. The six people (affected) are all also women, so as a male, I am not as worried yet.”
Jennifer McCue, a first-year graphic and interactive design major, chose to receive the J&J vaccine in New Jersey, so she would not have to return to her home state a second time.
“I think if they do more research and the pause is lifted, the J&J vaccine would be more convenient for students so they don’t have to go back to get a second dose,” McCue said.
Due to experiencing side effects from the inoculation, McCue said she was initially worried when she heard about the cases of blood clots linked to the J&J vaccine. However, since it has now been more than three weeks since she has received it, McCue said she is no longer concerned.
“I don’t really regret (getting) it, I feel like the pause isn’t going to last for long because the cases are so rare,” McCue said.
Isabella Foley, a first-year film, television and media arts major, was scheduled to receive the J&J vaccine on April 14. After the news of the cases of blood clots, Foley did not get it.
“I know it is a low number of cases for blood clots but it definitely didn’t provide encouragement to go through with the shot, so I decided not to,” Foley said. “I think that I would most likely not have experienced those risks, but since there are other, safer vaccines available I plan on doing one of those instead.”
However, Foley said if she had already received the vaccine before the pause was implemented, she thinks she would have been wary but not regretful.
“If I already had (received it) before the news came out, I don’t think I would necessarily regret it,” Foley said. “I just would be a little more worried for my health and watch how it affects my body.”
Hill said Quinnipiac originally planned to distribute the J&J vaccine at the on-campus clinic set for the end of the month. Due to the pause, the Pfizer vaccine will instead be available.
“I’m sure that people out there that have been vaccine hesitant who will say, ‘I told you so, we knew this would happen and these aren’t safe,’” Hill said. “So we just need to approach that and say, we do have a system that recognizes when adverse events like this happen and the public is informed, we’re not hiding anything and with the other vaccines, we have (distributed) tens of millions of doses, so we should feel very comfortable with that.”
Students like Marsh feel that there’s no use in being fearful of adverse effects since he has already taken the J&J vaccine.
“I’m not going to live in fear from something that already has been injected into me. No going back now,” said Marsh.