April 14, 2021

"This morning, serious people are asking about the decision to pause the use of the J&J vaccine when six out of 7 million people who received the vaccine have had an adverse reaction," CNN's John Berman said, introducing John Avlon's Reality Check segment.

"We're in a race between the covid-19 variants and the vaccines, which is why it was surprising to hear the Johnson & Johnson's was put on pause while the FDA and CDC look at blood clots," Avlon said. "It must be serious, right? No."

"It turns out six women got a bloot clot and one has died. That is a tragedy, but context is key. This is out of nearly 7 million doses administered at the time. So even if the vaccine is behind the blood clots, the chances of it happening to you is literally less than one in a million. In the risk-reward calculus of life, this is not a tough call. By comparison, there's more of a chance that you'll be struck by lightning this year, which is one in 700,000. There's also more of a chance of being hit and killed by a satellite falling from space, according to NASA, or to put it in more terrestrial terms, the chance of dying in a car crash is about one in 100,000.

"This is not to diminish the pain of those who suffer side effects, but it's an attempt to put this in perspective because your chances of getting covid if you haven't been vaccinated is far greater. Get this. You're more than 200 times likely to get covid-19 today than to develop one of these rare clotting events. So why do they pause it? An abundance of caution is the most generous explanation because this unproven possible side effect is very similiar to concerns in Europe about the Astra Zeneca brand, which is still available there. In some states, people with J&J appointments can show up and get another brand. In other states, appointments are being canceled for the time being, but this is not good.

"Public health is hard. Don't take it for granted. Perfect is never on the menu. For example, the polio vaccine saved hundreds of thousands of lives worldwide but it had its share of hiccups. It's miraculous that the mRNA vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna were developed at all, let alone with up to 95% efficacy. But we're learning that with even with those double doses, there's still a small chance you can come down with covid, though it's unlikely to lead to hospitalization or death. That's sort of the whole ball game, right?

"There's a real danger that in reaction to this news, anti-vaxxer fears will be validated in people's minds and those folks most likely to get sick and perhaps more importantly, infect other people. Kids are becoming more severely ill with covid variants, and covid cases are on the rise worldwide for the seventh consecutive week, even as U.S. vaccinations are coming nearly five times faster than the global average. As vaccinations are on the rise, so are hospitalizations for those who haven't been vaccinated. Please, this is not the time to pull your foot off the gas. Remain vigilant and confident. Don't let fear make your decisions for you. Get vaccinated. That's the reality check.

"It's the most liberated feeling ever to get it. I only received one shot and can't wait for my second. Already it gives me a whole new outlook on life," Avlon said.

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