UNMC Doc: J&J Pause a Good Idea, but Overreaction Will Hurt Vaccine Effort

April 13, 2021, 3:06 p.m. ·

UNMC infectious disease expert Dr. Mark Rupp. (Photo from Zoom)

As federal health officials weigh the potential risks of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, an infectious disease expert at the University of Nebraska Medical Center thinks an overreaction wouldn’t be good either. Dr. Mark Rupp agrees with the FDA and CDC’s decision to pause the use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, but said on a Zoom call Tuesday that in this case, its benefits might outweigh its risks.

“Even if these rare thrombotic events prove to be associated with the J&J vaccine, they’re on the order of one per million right now,” Rupp said. “So clearly we need to look at this, we need to be careful, we need to understand it, but the risk from one in a million compared to the risk of having severe COVID favors giving the vaccine.”

Rupp said regardless of the outcome of the investigation into six cases of possible clotting associated with the J&J vaccine, some people will be even more hesitant to be vaccinated.

“I do unfortunately think that no matter what we do at this point, this is going to reinforce vaccine hesitancy for a lot of people, but I would reinforce again that this is a extremely rare event,” Rupp said.

Rupp had no update on a patient at UNMC who experienced clotting two weeks after receiving the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, citing confidentiality laws.