Expert talks about the impact of Johnson & Johnson vaccine pause

Illinois health officials announced 1,959 new cases of COVID-19 and 22 related deaths Monday.

Video Transcript

MARK RIVERA: Dr. Chris Colbert from the Emergency Medicine Residency Program at UIC joins us this morning. As always on these Sundays, thank you again for being here.

CHRIS COLBERT: Mark, I appreciate it.

MARK RIVERA: Great to see you again. Good morning. So, what are the top things that people need to know about this Johnson & Johnson pause, and kind of, you can talk about confidence in vaccines as well.

CHRIS COLBERT: So, the big thing, in reference to facts to remember in reference to the Johnson & Johnson pause, number one is that seven million people have received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, and of those, six individuals that observed these concerns. Now, despite these low numbers, this was not dismissed. And I-- and I believe this speaks and confirms to the safety by which the FDA, the CDC, and the medical community are placing on not only the vaccine, but ensuring that the individuals who received the vaccine are [INAUDIBLE] in what is done, as well as feels safe where data is being observed and alerting the medical community, which again, promotes confidence in the vaccine use and distribution.

MARK RIVERA: And just to put a little more context on it as well. You talk about six-- six people out of the millions that have been vaccinated. I think it's not even a tenth of 1% that have experienced these-- these dangerous outcomes. So, again, kind of putting that in context. Very, very low numbers.

Tomorrow, the city of Chicago is expanding vaccine eligibility to anyone 16 and older. The rest of Illinois already made that switch. Could this Johnson & Johnson pause have an impact on an ability to get appointments, with so many possible vaccines taken offline?

CHRIS COLBERT: Well, I doubt it will decrease the ability to receive appointments. If those individuals who are specifically looking for Johnson & Johnson, they may have to reserve that for some other time. There's still tons of Pfizer. There's lots of Moderna that's available. There are options for this vaccine. And I think that is extremely important when speaking with the community that there are options for you to choose what you feel most comfortable with in taking for vaccines.

MARK RIVERA: Yeah, and I know the city is telling people, don't change your appointment. We're going to switch it to Pfizer. We'll get you scheduled for the second shot as soon as you get that. So, anybody who has already scheduled an appointment, keep it, keep it.

The CEO of Pfizer says, a booster may be necessary within a year. Do you expect that's true of all vaccines, including Moderna and the rest? You think it'll likely have to be a yearly shot, kind of like the flu?

CHRIS COLBERT: You know, that's what the data is looking like. And I want to really underscore the point that Pfizer has made this statement based on significant research. There are 12,000 patients within the study who've received the vaccine. And this is also data collected from immunologic [INAUDIBLE] as well as disease progression. So, from the data they have extrapolated, it is safe to say that moving forward, to ensure that we have a really great immune response collectively to the vaccine, that a booster is in sight for most of these vaccines as well.

MARK RIVERA: OK, thank you very much Dr. Colbert. We appreciate you every weekend here.

CHRIS COLBERT: It's great to be here. Thank you.

MARK RIVERA: Great to see you again. And as we continue to learn more about COVID-- these COVID vaccines and the different variants that are out there, you can always find the latest at ABC7Chicago.com/coronavirus.