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‘This is a one-in-a-million side effect’: PA Dept. of Health discusses impact of Johnson & Johnson vaccine pause

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HARRISBURG, DAUPHIN COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU-TV) — Department of Health Acting Secretary Alison Beam and Acting Physician General Dr. Denise Johnson hosted a virtual media briefing to provide a COVID-19 vaccine update and outline Johnson & Johnson vaccine impact in Pennsylvania.

Beam advised Pennsylvanians who received the Johnson & Johnson shot in the last three weeks and develop a severe headache, abdominal pain, leg pain, or shortness of breath to immediately contact their healthcare provider.

Beam also encouraged those in the commonwealth to move forward with getting vaccinated. Those who have appointments to get a Pfizer or Moderna shot should keep that appointment. Providers will not be administering the Johnson & Johnson vaccine over the next week.

The action of pausing the administration of the Johnson & Johnson shot shows the federal process of COVID-19 vaccines, Beam said. She said this action reflects the federal government’s commitment to protect Americans.

6.8 million Americans have received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine and only six people have had this reaction. Beam emphasized that this is a one-in-a-million side effect. More than 262,000 Pennsylvanians have been vaccinated with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

Beam also says this action should give Pennsylvanians confidence in the effectiveness of Pfizer and Moderna vaccines.

There’s been a high level of scrutiny for coronavirus vaccines, including Johnson & Johnson. This pause is to evaluate to see if further action needs to be taken, this should make Americans feel more confident that this process is being scrutinized so closely, more closely than any other vaccine process, Dr. Johnson said.

Beam said this pause will not likely affect vaccine scheduling appointments in the future. Allocations of Pfizer and Moderna have remained steady, Beam said.

“What we really trust at this point, is that our provider community can continue to rely on Pfizer and Moderna allocations,” Dr. Johnson said.

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