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Ohio health leaders stress available COVID-19 vaccines are safe

Published: Apr. 13, 2021 at 10:33 PM EDT
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TOLEDO, Ohio (WTVG) - Health leaders in Ohio and across the country are working to assure the public that COVID-19 vaccines are safe in the wake of news that the CDC and FDA recommended that states hold off on administering Johnson & Johnson’s shots.

The agencies are investigating six women who developed rare blood clots in the days after taking the shots. One of them died.

They are the only reported cases of the 7.2 million people who received the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine as of Tuesday.

It’s not clear if the reactions are a direct cause of getting the vaccine for women, who are between 18 and 48 years old, or if it is a coincidence.

Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine accounts for less than 4% of all doses administered in Ohio and Michigan.

During a news briefing hosted by Governor Mike DeWine, state and local health officials stressed the importance of getting vaccinated against COVID-19, noting there have been no similar blood clots detected in people who have received the nearly-200 million doses of Pfizer and Moderna’s vaccines across the country.

“It’s now going to be more important than ever just to reassure people that the vaccines that are available are safe,” said Dr. Andrew Thomas with the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center. “The appointments are available now because the supply is higher. So there are more appointments in the state each week.”

Gov. DeWine said it’s important to get the message out about the rare reactions so people know what to look for, but said it should be comforting knowing that scientists are proceeding with caution.

He also said the White House believes the vaccine pause will not last for months, instead, will last “days to weeks.”

Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff, the Ohio Department of Health Chief Medical Officer, said he’s reassured in the vaccine rollout by the federal government due to the concerns shown by the CDC and FDA. He also praised their transparency during the process of temporarily putting the shots on the shelf.

He said he understands how people could grow more hesitant about getting vaccinated in light of the news, but he said, the developments should have the opposite effect for people who are concerned about their safety.

“I think that for those whose hesitancy is built off of fear regarding the safety and the safety practices, this should be reassuring,” Vanderhoff said. “The scientific and medical community is really on this and watching very closely to assure that what people are receiving is, in fact, safe.”

Nearly 74% of Ohioans 65 and older have received at least one dose of the vaccine. In the last two weeks, people younger than 40 have made up more than half of the shots administered in the state.

State and local leaders will now work to assure younger people that the vaccines are safe.

“We’ve all known that 20, 30, and 40-somethings, they’re going to be harder to inspire to go out and roll up their sleeve and get vaccinated,” Thomas said. “We really still encourage people to go out and take advantage of the vaccine that we have available.”

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