As of late, Johnson & Johnson was recommended to suspend the use of the vaccine to allow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention time to investigate a possible connection between its vaccine and a rare blood clotting disorder. Some students at WVU were administered the vaccine before the concern was raised.
“At first, I was a little concerned,” said Thomas Lueckel, a senior English and psychology student, about his feelings regarding the pause. “But looking at the data, it seemed like the incidences of adverse reactions were so few that it’s not particularly concerning to me.”
According to the CDC’s website, more than 6.8 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine have been administered in the United States. The pause in administrations was recommended after six women between the ages of 18 and 48 developed blood clots.
“From what I’ve seen, it’s almost a one-in-a-million chance of getting the serious adverse reaction- blood clots,” Leuckel said. “That actually makes me feel more confident in the other vaccines, knowing that they’re willing to discontinue Johnson & Johnson over a negative reaction that occurs one in a million times.”
Lueckel went on to state that the blood clots’ sex-specific occurrences, only occurring so far in women, were another reason he did not feel alarmed.
“Whether that [the sex-specific occurences] are random chance or not, it seems like I am not personally at risk at all,” Lueckel said.
Lueckel also said that he thought the news of the blood clots might give fuel to arguments about vaccines being unsafe.
“I think, unfortunately, it will [feed fears] for a lot of people, especially because it’s such scary news,” Lueckel said. “But I still think the benefits to public health are greater for getting the vaccine than not.”
Milica Babic, a first-year master’s student in industrial management systems engineering, said she had a bit of hesitancy about the vaccines from the beginning.
“Honestly, I was skeptical about all the vaccines at first,” Babic said. “I didn’t want to be one of the first people to get them. I wanted to see what are some of the results, and how people reacted, in order for me to know what the consequences are. As a woman, to me, the most important thing is if I’m gonna have kids one day and how that will influence that. I think that everything we take, all these medications and even food, there’s always a certain amount of risk.”
Babic said that her decision to get the vaccine was, in a small part, fueled by a sort of peer pressure around the issue.
“I do feel like I probably would have waited a few more months maybe,” Babic said. “I did definitely feel the pressure, just from the faculty and fellow students.”
However, she said the bulk of her decision to get the vaccine came from a sense that it was becoming normalized as more and more people got it.
“I kind of knew about the risks, I did research it, and as for that peer pressure, I had to live with it for as long as when people started getting the vaccine,” Babic said. “I was dealing with this; that wasn’t the problem. It was just that I thought it was starting to normalize and that more and more people were getting it anyway, so I would be just one of them.”
Babic said that while she would have waited longer, conditions would probably not have changed much.
“I think I would’ve waited longer, but I don’t think that there will be many more changes,” Babic said. “Getting Johnson & Johnson or any other vaccine, I think that there could be side effects. There’s risks to any of them.”