BACK

How does today’s news on the Johnson & Johnson vaccine from FDA and CDC reflect on the safety of COVID vaccines generally?

This article was published on
April 14, 2021

This explainer is more than 90 days old. Some of the information might be out of date or no longer relevant. Browse our homepage for up to date content or request information about a specific topic from our team of scientists.

SciLine reaches out to our network of scientific experts and poses commonly asked questions about newsworthy topics. Reporters can use these responses in news stories, with attribution to the expert.

SciLine reaches out to our network of scientific experts and poses commonly asked questions about newsworthy topics. Reporters can use these responses in news stories, with attribution to the expert.

Publication

What our experts say

Context and background

Resources

Media briefing

Media Release

Expert Comments: 

Dave O’Connor, PhD

The ‘large scale’ clinical trials that led to EUA approval and its international equivalent relied on data from tens of thousands of people. It is virtually inevitable that vaccinating orders of magnitude more people will lead to identification of suspicious events that could be linked to the vaccine. An extreme example—some number of people likely got into car accidents on their way home from getting vaccinated, but the vaccines didn’t cause car accidents. The FDA and CDC’s rapid action should be taken as an example of how seriously they are taking potentially worrisome side effects and should engender more confidence in the vaccine enterprise, not less.

Beth Kirkpatrick, MD

COVID vaccines remain generally very safe overall. The move to pause vaccination is a transparent and conservative decision in the setting of rare events—in the middle of a pandemic—and demonstrates the dedication of the CDC and FDA to the safety of all vaccine recipients.

Darryl Falzarano, PhD

Everyone wants safe vaccines and the pause to further investigate is evidence that the reporting system for adverse outcomes is working. Rare events will only be noted once millions of people are vaccinated and so the investigation that is currently ongoing is timely, prudent, and appropriate. There is always a risk/reward balance that has to be considered and we are seeing really quick and adaptive decisions being made as data is available.

Q&A

No items found.