JOHNSTON (AP) — Gov. Kim Reynolds expressed concern Wednesday that the suspension of Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine might reinforce the hesitancy many Iowa residents feel toward getting immunized.
Reynolds called on the public to give federal health officials time to investigate the single-dose vaccine, after six women developed blood clots after receiving it, including one who died.
“It’s important that we don’t jump to conclusions prematurely before more details are known,” she said at her weekly news conference.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration recommended that the temporary suspension of the J&J vaccine while they look into the clotting issue. Reynolds pointed out that the six known cases represent a tiny fraction of the roughly 7 million people who have received the J&J vaccine.
The governor received the J&J vaccine six weeks ago and said felt fine afterward other than a headache and fatigue that evening.
Dr. Patricia Winokur, an executive dean at the University of Iowa College of Medicine and a researcher who has conducted drug trials, said every drug has rare side effects. She said the safety system is working by suspending the use of the J&J vaccine and rechecking its effectiveness and safety risks.
The coronavirus is still killing 500 to 1,000 people per day in the U.S., and the two-dose Pfizer and Moderna vaccines haven’t been shown to cause any serious side effects.
“So many of you are going to be considering whether you should continue to pursue a COVID-19 vaccine and the answer is yes. We still have COVID-19 circulating in the United States. We have variants that are being transmitted more quickly in the United States,” Winokur said.
Iowa has fully vaccinated 33.8% of its adult population, CDC data shows.
Reynolds said about half of Iowans in their 50s have received at least one dose but just 40% of those in their 40s and 29% of Iowans in their 20s have done so.
About 20 of Iowa’s 99 counties refused vaccine allocations this week because not enough people were willing to get shots, said Iowa Department of Public Health Director Kelly Garcia.
She said the state is beginning a concentrated effort to reach out to churches and other community groups for help in persuading more people to get vaccinated.
Reynolds said the state is reallocating doses to larger cities where the need still exceeds the demand.
The state also is hosting three online information sessions to allow hesitant people to ask questions of medical experts. The first is scheduled for April 17.