Doctor cautions against Johnson and Johnson fear, blood clot chance '1 in a million'

Audrey Odom called Monday and booked her appointment at a COVID-19 neighborhood vaccination clinic in Detroit for Tuesday. Her husband had been urging her to get her shot.

"They said - oh yeah - we're doing Johnson and Johnson and you can come get it tomorrow," she said. "I was getting ready to go out the house this morning and he said, 'You better stop - there's a program on about Johnson and Johnson.'"

The distribution of the J & J vaccine is now paused while the CDC and FDA investigate the potential for blood clots. Six women between the ages of 18 and 48 developed serious conditions within a couple of weeks of getting the Johnson and Johnson vaccine. One died - another was hospitalized in critical condition.

"It appears to be incredibly rare  - a one in a million chance of that," said Dr. Christopher Carpenter.

Carpenter is an infectious disease specialist with Beaumont Health. He says nearly seven million doses of the one-shot Johnson and Johnson vaccine have been given. 

He adds, this pause in distribution should not discourage people from getting vaccinated.

"We need to be very cautious with this," he said. "But we still have a pandemic - especially in our state - we're getting hit incredibly hard right now. The hospitals are full, actually overflowing right now, we have patients dying.

"That's how we get out of this, is really vaccination."

Carpenter says Pffizer and Moderna are still available, effective, and safe. Many are hoping the Johnson and Johnson vaccine will prove to be the same, after this pause and investigation.
"That one shot is really a convenience for that population that's going to have a hard time returning," said Erin Dwyer. "It really is, I think,  vitally important to have that one shot option available."

Dwyer is a college professor who got the Johnson and Johnson vaccine a few weeks ago. She's among the many who have not experienced any problems.

"I do hope that it's pretty quickly understood that this is just a pause and not a stop," she said.

As for Audrey Odom, she still went in to get her vaccine - she just got Moderna instead.

"I helped with doing what I'm supposed to do," she said. "I got the shot - because I realize if it was just for me, I think I wouldn't have gotten it - but it's for everybody else - it's for the community."