BALTIMORE (CBS NEWS/WJZ) — Dharma Gonzalez is thankful she was able to get an appointment at M&T Bank Stadium Wednesday following the pause on Johnson & Johnson vaccines to investigate cases of rare blood clots.
“I was originally supposed to get Johnson & Johnson actually,” Gonzalez told WJZ Investigator Mike Hellgren. “They emailed me saying they needed to reschedule, but at that point, I had already gotten this [appointment].”READ MORE: Baltimore County Police Shoot and Kill Suspect In Woodlawn; 3 Other Victims Found Dead
She received Pfizer. Still, she has confidence in Johnson & Johnson.
“I would be fine getting it. It was a small number of people who got sick,” she said.
Lauren Darby also was vaccinated at M&T Bank Stadium Wednesday.
“It wasn’t about me getting vaccinated. It was protecting my child, protecting the older people in my family who could also get sick,” Darby told Hellgren. “It’s exciting to be fully vaccinated. I’m a little relieved. I’m in the grocery industry so now I feel confident going to work and being able to help the community now that I’m good to go.”
She also said she would have taken Johnson & Johnson if offered.
“I still would have gotten vaccinated. I think I would have been more careful if I got Johnson & Johnson,” Darby said.
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The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) held an emergency meeting Wednesday as they continue to investigate at least 6 cases of blood clots among women aged 18 to 48—one of them deadly.
The CDC advisory committee determined they need more time to look into the cases after experts on the panel argued there was still insufficient data to make final recommendations in light of the serious, rare blood clotting events potentially linked to the shots.
While the CDC’s current pause on Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine is not binding, the warning issued by federal health officials on Tuesday urged that vaccinations be suspended only until the panel voted on “updated recommendations” for using the vaccine.
“Your input today was incredibly helpful in terms of helping inform our work over the next week,” said Dr. Amanda Cohn, the agency’s designated federal officer for the advisory committee.
“To be very frank, I do not want to vote on this issue today,” Dr. Beth Bell, a member of the panel and a former top CDC infectious diseases official, told the committee.
“I just don’t feel that was enough information to make an evidence-based decision. We won’t have all the information, but I think there are some things that we can gather relatively quickly, which all have to do with the benefit-risk balance,” added Dr. Bell.
A workgroup within the panel said it had discussed a range of options this week, including recommending using the vaccine only for specific groups of people or abandoning the shot altogether but concluded that they needed more data on these and other possible cases that could be reported.
WJZ checked again with the Maryland Department of Health, and they tell us the state has yet to report any similar reactions to Johnson & Johnson. Still, Maryland has temporarily stopped using the shot.READ MORE: William Wayland Scheduled For Trial In Alleged Mortgage Theft Scheme
The state is not expected to resume using J&J until they get more guidance from the CDC, which may meet again in a week. All Johnson & Johnson vaccines are being stored until then.
Governor Larry Hogan said he told the Biden Administration it has a “major communication problem you’ve got to fix now” because many people believe J&J is “no good.”
“They find 6 cases that they’re investigating out of 7 million of these shots, so it’s not really time for alarm, but all the coverage on the pause—no question—it’s going to have some people thinking twice, and it’s something we are going to have to overcome,” Hogan said.
Baltimore City Mayor Brandon Scott and City Health Commissioner Dr. Letitia Dzirasa both also expressed concern about the issue causing hesitancy for the vaccine during a virtual forum Wednesday.
Dr. Dzirasa said 10,530 people, or 5% of those vaccinated in Baltimore, have received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. That includes Mayor Scott who said he did not experience any adverse issues after his inoculation last month.
Dzirasa urged anyone with concerns to contact their physician. Symptoms include headaches, abdominal pain, leg pain and shortness of breath.
The clotting issue requires special treatment—not the typically-used heparin—because of possible low platelet counts.
50% of Maryland adults have now received one dose of vaccine.
— Kata D. Hall (@katadhall) April 14, 2021
Moderna and Pfizer have not reported a similar clotting issue like the one being investigated with Johnson & Johnson.
“There’s a whole lot of people who are saying, ‘I am not going to get a vaccine.’ And if we can’t get to 80% of people who are getting a vaccine, we are not going to get this virus behind us. We are not going to be safe. We are not going to get back to normal,“ Governor Hogan said.MORE NEWS: Dominick Pailin, 29, Arrested, Charged With Allegedly Killing Brother, Police Say