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Vaccine hold doesn’t mean don’t get one

The Oregon Health Authority has followed the guidance of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and announced a temporary hold on administering the single-dose Johnson & Johnson COVID vaccine after six women developed a rare blood-clotting disorder after receiving the shot. This is a prudent move, but it’s not evidence of any widespread risk.

Let’s put it in perspective.

So far, more than 6.8 million people have received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. Six developed the rare but potentially serious blood clots. That’s less than a one-in-a-million chance of this side effect.

No medical treatment or vaccine is 100% risk-free. And the chance of dying from COVID-19 once you contract is far greater than one in a million.

Not only that, but the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is the least used of the three available in the U.S., making up just 3.1% of the 100,651 vaccine doses administered in Jackson County so far. Statewide, 3.7% of vaccine doses were the Johnson & Johnson shot. So the pause announced Tuesday shouldn’t slow vaccination efforts, health officials say.

The primary concern that led the Food and Drug Administration and the CDC to suspend administration of that vaccine is that the typical treatment for blood clots — giving the patient an anticoagulant — can make the condition worse. Suspending the vaccine will allow health officials to alert doctors of this fact.

The delay should also help researchers determine whether it was actually the vaccine that caused the clots or something completely unrelated.

Federal officials acted out of an abundance of caution, but that doesn’t mean anyone should decide not to get one of the other two vaccines. The Jackson County Expo has been selected as the site of a Pilot Community Vaccination Center, the first of its kind in Oregon, to distribute the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines starting April 21 to residents of Jackson, Josephine and Klamath counties.

All Oregon residents 16 and older will be eligible starting April 19. The sooner the bulk of the population is vaccinated, the sooner we can begin to resume the activities we all enjoyed before the pandemic struck.