False claims due to the pausing of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine are predictably escalating on social media. Numerous claims and conspiracy theories are circulating across all social media platforms. In one unverified video a young woman claims to have experienced “fits” and blood clots after receiving the Johnson and Johnson vaccine. The woman claims the government and pharmaceutical industry are covering up known dangers of COVID-19 vaccination. This video alone has received millions of views and hundred of thousands of engagements over the course of roughly 72 hours.
Recommendation: Direct Response Read More +
The pausing of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine is causing a massive increase in information seeking by the public, understandable concerns and questions, and both misinformation and disinformation. Directly informing the public as to developments in the ongoing investigation, the facts of the investigation, and the continuing safety of COVID-19 vaccines and the safety monitoring system in the U.S. is highly encouraged.
Here are five suggested talking points:
- The FDA and CDC did the right thing by pausing Johnson & Johnson vaccinations until we know more. This is an example of the system working. It seems like a drastic step because there is so much at stake right now, but by making this decision, the FDA is showing its commitment to safety and transparency. This is how the process is supposed to work, and why we can trust it. It is important that our public health leaders investigate these reports thoroughly, to understand the risk, and to understand how to best treat such a very rare reaction.
- What we know right now is that reports of blood clots after immunization are very rare. Almost seven million people have received the Johnson and Johnson vaccine and there have been fewer than 10 reported cases. Just as with any other drug, there is always a small risk involved.
- We are currently in an unprecedented nationwide vaccination effort, and it is remarkable how well our vaccines are performing. More than 100 million Americans have been vaccinated safely, most with Pfizer and Moderna doses. J&J makes up less than 5% of recorded shots in arms in the US to date, so we will continue to vaccinate millions every day, making our country safer. Pausing the J&J vaccine while our public health leaders investigate these concerns will not have a significant impact on our goal to reach 70 million people of color by the end of July.
- People have genuine concerns about the vaccines they receive — and they deserve answers. This announcement underscores the need to rapidly communicate updated information about vaccines. The Equity-First Vaccination Initiative created a system of more than 100 community-based organizations around the country that can get accurate, evidence-based information out quickly to address people’s questions and concerns.
- Getting a vaccine is still the best tool you can use to protect yourself and your loved ones. Any risk from the vaccine has to be put in context of risk from Covid-19 infection, which has killed over 560,000 Americans and caused serious illness and disability in millions more. Getting vaccinated against COVID-19 will most likely prevent you from getting sick. In the rare case where you do catch the virus, the vaccine will prevent you from becoming seriously ill, being hospitalized, or dying from COVID-19.
Fact Checking Source(s): cdc.gov, businessinsider.com