- Less than 1 in 4 currently unvaccinated Americans are willing to take Johnson & Johnson’s single-shot COVID-19 vaccine, according to a Washington Post-ABC News poll.
- The news comes after the FDA and CDC lifted an 11-day pause of the J&J vaccine on Friday following an investigation into the vaccine’s connection to blood clots in 15 women, three of whom died.
- Health experts have continued to stress that the vaccine is safe and beneficial, with the director of the National Institutes of Health noting that severe reactions to aspirin are more common.
- “We found that for every 1 million doses of this vaccine, the J&J vaccine could prevent over 650 hospitalizations and 12 deaths among women aged 18-49,” CDC director Rochelle Walensky said, “and this vaccine could prevent over 4,700 hospitalizations and nearly 600 deaths among women over 50.”
FDA and CDC Lift J&J Suspension
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) lifted their pause on Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine on Friday, but hesitancy to receive the single-dose jab is high among currently unvaccinated Americans.
The pause first began on April 13 following reports that six women had experienced rare blood clots within their brains. Eventually, nine more cases — all in women — were confirmed from the pool of nearly 8 million Americans who have received the J&J vaccine.
Of the 15, three have died, and seven others have been hospitalized.
Still, as Dr. Grace Lee, a doctor with the CDC, noted, “The last 11 days have been reassuring that we have not identified hundreds more cases despite enhanced awareness.”
Part of that enhanced awareness involved studying if these clots had any links to medical conditions or medications, but none were found. That includes obesity and the use of birth control, which some had suspected was leading to an increased risk factor because it also carries an increased risk for blood clots; however, those types of clots, as well as their treatments, are very different from what was seen with the J&J vaccine.
What Are the Risks?
As a condition for lifting the 11-day pause, a CDC advisory committee voted to add a warning about the increased but very rare risk for severe blood clots. Notably, those warnings had already been anticipated and printed ahead of the vote.
They’ll be handed out on the facts sheets people receive when they go to vaccination sites and will warn people that they should go to the doctor if they develop shortness of breath, chest pain, leg swelling, persistent abdominal pain, or neurological symptoms like blurred vision or severe and ongoing heachaches.
That said, experts such as Dr. Francis Collins, Director of the National Institutes of Health, have stressed that the J&J shot is safe.
“The risk of aspirin inducing a significant intestinal bleed is much higher than what we’re talking about here,” Collins said on NBC’s Meet the Press.
“But we Americans, we’re not that good at this kind of risk calculation [when] something sounds scary,” he added. “Somebody has pointed out, you are less likely as a woman taking J&J to have this blood-clotting problem than to get struck by lightning next year, so it’s a really low risk.”
“In terms of benefits, we found that for every 1 million doses of this vaccine, the J&J vaccine could prevent over 650 hospitalizations and 12 deaths among women aged 18-49,” CDC director Rochelle Walensky said, “and this vaccine could prevent over 4,700 hospitalizations and nearly 600 deaths among women over 50.”
On Friday, at least 10 million J&J doses were able to be deployed immediately.
Vaccine Hesitancy Is High for J&J
According to a Washington Post-ABC News poll, fewer than 1 in 4 currently unvaccinated Americans are willing to get the J&J shot.
Meanwhile, trust in the two-dose Pfizer and Moderna vaccines is much higher, but that information also comes as reports show five million people — nearly 8% of those who’ve gotten one shot of Pfizer or Moderna already — have missed their second doses.
The reasons why vary but do include the fear of strong side effects and the assumption that a single dose will offer enough protection.
Some vaccine experts have continued to criticize the J&J pause for its potential contribution to vaccine hesitancy.
“If I hear the phrase ‘abundance of caution’ one more time, I’m going to jump out of my window,” Paul A. Offit, a vaccine expert at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, told The Washington Post. “In the name of transparency, in the name of openness, we scare people.”
Other viral experts have argued that the pause was the right call, saying, “safety signals need to be investigated rapidly, especially when tied to severe outcomes, even if rare.”
See what others are saying: (The Washington Post) (The New York Times) (NBC News)
Florida School Says Students Vaccinated Against COVID-19 Must Stay Home for 30 Days
The school falsely claimed that people who have just been vaccinated risk “shedding” the coronavirus and could infect others.
Centner Academy Vaccination Policy
A private school in Florida is now requiring all students who get vaccinated against COVID-19 to quarantine for 30 days before returning to class.
According to the local Miami outlet WSVN, Centner Academy wrote a letter to parents last week describing COVID vaccines as “experimental” and citing anti-vaccine misinformation.
“If you are considering the vaccine for your Centner Academy student(s), we ask that you hold off until the Summer when there will be time for the potential transmission or shedding onto others to decrease,” the letter reportedly stated.
“Because of the potential impact on other students and our school community, vaccinated students will need to stay at home for 30 days post-vaccination for each dose and booster they receive and may return to school after 30 days as long as the student is healthy and symptom-free.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has debunked the false claim that those newly vaccinated against COVID-19 can “shed” the virus.
According to the agency’s COVID myths page, vaccine shedding “can only occur when a vaccine contains a weakened version of the virus,” but “none of the authorized COVID-19 vaccines in the United States contain the live virus that causes COVID-19. This means that a COVID-19 vaccine cannot make you sick with COVID-19.”
In fact, early research has suggested that vaccinated people are less likely to spread the virus than unvaccinated people.
Beyond that, unvaccinated people are more likely to spread COVID in general because they are much more likely to get the virus than vaccinated people. According to recently published CDC data, as of August, unvaccinated people were six times more likely to get COVID than vaccinated people and 11 times more likely to die from the virus.
Centner Academy Continues Spread of Misinformation
In a statement to The Washington Post Monday, Centner Academy co-founder David Centner doubled down on the school’s new policy, which he described as a “precautionary measure” based on “numerous anecdotal cases that have been in circulation.”
“The school is not opining as to whether unexplained phenomena have a basis in fact, however we prefer to err on the side of caution when making decisions that impact the health of the school community,” he added.
The new rule echoes similar efforts Centner Academy has made that run counter to public health guidance and scientific knowledge.
In April, the school made headlines when its leadership told vaccinated school employees that they were not allowed to be in contact with any students “until more information is known” and encouraged employees to wait until summer to get the jab.
According to The New York Times, the following week, a math and science teacher allegedly told students not to hug their vaccinated parents for more than five seconds.
The outlet also reported that the school’s other co-founder, Leila Centner, discouraged masking, but when state health officials came for routine inspections, teachers said they were directed in a WhatsApp group to put masks on.
See what others are saying: (WSVN) (The Washington Post) (Business Insider)
Katie Couric Says She Edited Ruth Bader Ginsburg Quote About Athletes Kneeling During National Anthem
Couric said she omitted part of a 2016 interview in order to “protect” the justice.
Kate Couric Edited Quote From Justice Ginsburg
In her upcoming book, journalist Katie Couric admitted to editing a quote from Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg in 2016 in order to “protect” Ginsberg from potential criticism.
Couric interviewed the late justice for an article in Yahoo News. During their discussion, she asked Ginsburg about her thoughts on athletes like Colin Kaepernick kneeling for the national anthem to protest racial inequality.
“I think it’s really dumb of them,” Ginsburg is quoted saying in the piece. “Would I arrest them for doing it? No. I think it’s dumb and disrespectful. I would have the same answer if you asked me about flag burning. I think it’s a terrible thing to do, but I wouldn’t lock a person up for doing it. I would point out how ridiculous it seems to me to do such an act.”
According to The Daily Mail and The New York Post, which obtained advance copies of Couric’s book “Going There,” there was more to Ginsburg’s response. Couric wrote that she omitted a portion where Ginsburg said the form of protest showed a “contempt for a government that has made it possible for their parents and grandparents to live a decent life…Which they probably could not have lived in the places they came from.“
Couric Says She Lost Sleep Making Choice
“As they became older they realize that this was youthful folly,” Ginsberg reportedly continued. “And that’s why education is important.“
According to The Daily Mail, Couric wrote that the Supreme Court’s head of public affairs sent an email asking to remove comments about kneeling because Ginsburg had misspoken. Couric reportedly added that she felt a need to “protect” the justice, thinking she may not have understood the question. Couric reached out to her friend, New York Times reporter David Brooks, regarding the matter and he allegedly likewise believed she may have been confused by the subject.
Couric also wrote that she was a “big RBG fan” and felt her comments were “unworthy of a crusader for equality.” Because she knew the remarks could land Ginsburg in hot water, she said she “lost a lot of sleep” and felt “conflicted” about whether or not to edit them out.
Couric was trending on Twitter Wednesday and Thursday as people questioned the ethics behind her choice to ultimately cut part of the quote. Some thought the move showed a lack of journalistic integrity while others thought revealing the story now harmed Ginsburg’s legacy.
See what others are saying: (New York Post) (The Daily Mail) (Insider)
Biden Administration Orders ICE To Halt Workplace Raids
The Department of Homeland Security will now focus on targeting employers who exploit undocumented workers, instead of carrying out raids that dissuade those workers from reporting labor violations.
DHS Reverses Worksite Raid Policy
The Biden administration announced Tuesday that it was ordering Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to stop workplace raids.
The move marks a reversal from Trump administration policies that have been strongly criticized by immigration activists who argue the efforts created fear in immigrant communities and dissuaded them from reporting labor violations or exploitative employment practices.
In addition to stopping the raids, Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said in a memo that the administration will refocus enforcement efforts to instead target “employers who exploit unauthorized workers, conduct illegal activities or impose unsafe working conditions.”
Mayorkas added that the immigration agencies housed in DHS will have the next 60 days to identify harmful existing policies and come up with new ones that provide better deportation protections for workers who report their employers.
In the Tuesday memo, the secretary argued that shift of focus will “reduce the demand for illegal employment by delivering more severe consequences to exploitative employers” and “increase the willingness of workers to report violations of law by exploitative employers and cooperate in employment and labor standards investigation.”
Labor Market Implications
The new policy comes at a time when the U.S. is experiencing a critical labor shortage, including in many sectors that rely on immigrant labor.
Some companies that use undocumented workers pay them wages that are far below the market rate, which is not only exploitative but also undercuts competitors.
According to Mayorkas, the pivot to employer-based enforcement will help protect American businesses.
“By exploiting undocumented workers and paying them substandard wages, the unscrupulous employers create an unfair labor market,” he said in the memo. “They also unfairly drive down their costs and disadvantage their business competitors who abide by the law.”
It is currently unclear how effective the new efforts will be, but historical precedent does not paint an optimistic picture.
The Biden administration’s efforts closely mirror a similar move by the Obama administration, which attempted to reverse workplace raids authorized under President George W. Bush by targetting those who employ undocumented workers rather than the workers themselves.
That effort, however, still led to thousands of undocumented workers being fired.