July 23, 2021

IDPH says benefits of J&J vaccine outweigh risk of Guillain-Barré

The preliminary reports of the syndrome occurred in 100 out of 12.5 million J&J vaccinations

Illinois Department of Public Health officials said the benefits of Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine outweigh a slight risk of developing a rare neurological disorder disclosed this week by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine “is highly safe and effective,” IDPH spokesman Cris Martinez said.

“Based on the guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the FDA, the IDPH will continue administration” of the J&J vaccine.

The number of J&J one-dose shots administered in Illinois fall far below vaccines developed by Moderna Inc. and Pfizer/BioNTech Inc. that require two doses.

J&J shots given in Illinois total 469,995, CDC data showed Wednesday. In comparison, there have been 5,191,108 Moderna doses and 7,593,466 Pfizer doses administered statewide since vaccinations began in mid-December.

The FDA announced Tuesday it was revising fact sheets for providers and recipients of J&J shots to inform about “an observed increased risk of Guillain-Barré syndrome following vaccination.” The condition can involve damage to nerve cells that cause muscle weakness or paralysis in extreme cases.

The preliminary reports of the syndrome occurred in 100 out of 12.5 million J&J vaccinations.

“While there is a slight risk for Guillain-Barré syndrome, health experts across this country have reviewed the data and agree that the benefits from Janssen COVID-19 vaccine in preventing COVID-19 far outweigh the risk,” Martinez said.

The J&J vaccine is also a one-shot process, “a critical feature in protecting hard-to-reach populations that cannot or may not be able to receive a second dose to complete a vaccine series.”

The federal government paused use of J&J’s vaccine in April for 10 days to study a small number of rare blood clots reported in women who received shots, and resumed it after requiring additional warnings for providers.

Pfizer’s vaccine is the only one currently approved for children and youths age 17 through 12 in the U.S.

New cases of COVID-19 in Illinois reached 742 on Wednesday, the highest since late May, with seven more deaths from the respiratory disease, IDPH reported.

On Tuesday, 22,962 more COVID-19 shots were administered in the state. The seven-day average is 22,198.

The federal government has delivered 14,392,335 doses of vaccine to Illinois since distribution began in mid-December, and 12,873,967 shots have been administered.

So far, 6,320,119 people have been fully vaccinated -- 49.6% of Illinois’ 12.7 million population.

Illinois hospitals were treating 480 COVID-19 patients Tuesday night.

The state’s positivity rate for COVID-19 cases is 1.8% based on a seven-day average.

Total cases statewide stand at 1,398,409, and 23,343 Illinoisans have died since the pandemic began.

Labs processed 34,313 virus tests in the last 24 hours.