The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on July 12 added a warning to the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine, indicating the vaccine can lead to an increased risk of a rare neurological condition known as Guillain-Barré syndrome. Guillain-Barré syndrome is a rare disorder in which the body's immune system attacks nerves. Weakness and tingling in the extremities are usually the first symptoms.

The FDA and Centers for Disease Control (CDC) take vaccine safety extremely seriously. The warning comes after US federal officials identified approximately 100 cases of Guillain-Barré syndrome out of the nearly 13 million Johnson & Johnson doses administered. The identification of any possible risks, like the very low risk associated with the J&J vaccine, is a sign that the nation’s safety monitoring system for COVID-19 vaccines is robust and working.

Although this new risk was identified, the benefits of the vaccine continue to greatly outweigh the risks. The risk of severe adverse effects after any COVID-19 vaccination remains very low, far lower than adverse health outcomes associated with contracting COVID-19. Data does not show any increased risk of Guillain-Barré syndrome for the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines.

In the United States and in Rock County, nearly all COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths are occurring in unvaccinated individuals. The CDC recommends that everyone age 12 years and older receive a COVID-19 vaccine.

Rock County residents seeking vaccination options and locations may visit RockCountyShot.com, which is updated with new regional opportunities regularly. Anyone who would like to be vaccinated and requires transportation assistance should call 211 to arrange a ride.

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