What do Johnson & Johnson vaccine recipients need to know?

Illinois health officials announced 3,581 new cases of COVID-19 and 40 related deaths Thursday.

Video Transcript

TANJA BABICH: Dr. Robert Sternberger, infectious disease expert at Advocate Aurora Health, joins us now with more on the Johnson and Johnson vaccine review. Good morning, Doctor. Good to see you.

ROBERT CITRONBERG: Good morning, Tanja.

TANJA BABICH: So what kind of effect do you see this having on the local vaccine supply?

ROBERT CITRONBERG: In the short term, very little. Remember, the vaccine was only used nationally, about 6.8 million doses compared to about 180 million between Pfizer and Moderna. And also remember that we anticipated a big shortage of the vaccine anyway, due to manufacturing errors. So for the short term, there won't be any problems. There's a good supply of Moderna and Pfizer vaccine available.

In the long term, though, we will need that vaccine. And we're optimistic that once we figure out a risk group for this complication, that we'll be able to resume the use of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine and then build up our supply again.

TERRELL BROWN: Doctor, there are people watching this morning who have had the J&J vaccine. There are others who will receive it, I would imagine at some point. What do they need to know?

ROBERT CITRONBERG: The first thing is that this is a very, very rare complication. It occurs at a rate of about one in a million. If you think about it, people engage in behaviors all the time where the risk of harm is much higher than one in a million. Very, very low.

Really, what this tells us is that the system works. The safety checks that are in place really, really work.

For people who have had the vaccine within the last three weeks, they don't need to panic if they have any symptoms of things like shortness of breath, headache, swelling in your legs. You're supposed to call your doctor and get it checked out. But again, the chances of that happening are very, very low.

We're hopeful that, as I mentioned, a risk group will be identified as someone who is at high risk for this. Those people will be diverted to a different vaccine and we'll be able to resume the vaccine in other populations. It's a really good vaccine, and we're going to need it going forward.

TANJA BABICH: Well, your insight is appreciated, Dr. Robert Citronberg. This is a language that not a lot of people spoke before this pandemic and they're learning as they go along. We appreciate your time.

ROBERT CITRONBERG: Thank you.