by Georges Budagu Makoko, Amjambo Africa Publisher

On April 13, 2021, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration paused the Johnson and Johnson vaccination rollout after nearly seven million people had received it throughout the United States. The pause was lifted 10 days later, and vaccinations with Johnson and Johnson have resumed following the recommendation of an advisory committee to the CDC. The pause was announced after one person died and five others experienced serious blood clotting after receiving the one-shot vaccine. The vaccine label now includes a warning label, and those receiving the vaccine are given a factsheet with information about symptoms to be aware of following vaccination. The chances of having a serious reaction are less than two people in one million cases, and treatment is available. According to the Director of the U.S. CDC, the chances of getting COVID are significantly higher than the chance of having a serious reaction to the vaccine. However, all of this has added to existing rumors and conspiracy theories about the COVID-19 vaccine that had already been circulating on social media. And many people are concerned that the momentum for vaccination in the immigrant community, which had started picking up prior to the pause, may be hard to regain.

When I heard the news of the pause, I found it incredibly reassuring. The fact that the FDA quickly made the decision to pause the Johnson and Johnson vaccine gave me a very great sense of trust that the government is closely watching after the well-being of its citizens and has the best interest of its people in mind. After just one person’s death, and the illness of five others – out of seven and one half million people who had received the vaccine – the government put a temporary halt to the vaccine administration process to investigate and see if there is a connection between the vaccines and a rare form of blood clotting. It is good to know that the government has its peoples’ backs, and is ready to react to any potential health threat to them. Of course, my thoughts and prayers go out to anyone suffering – I wish them quick recovery.

As someone who was born and grew up in DR Congo, from a young age I constantly experienced the carelessness of the government toward the well-being of its citizenry. For example, the staggering number of children who die at birth, malnutrition, rampant malaria, the number of people who are killed by rebels while the government acts as if this is not one of its responsibilities, and parents who must pay teachers so their children can get an education. In DR Congo, the only time the government seems interested in the people is when they are collecting taxes, or asking for votes during elections!

So, I am amazed to experience this level of precaution taken by the U.S. government. It has been quite a long year since the world started grappling with the COVID-19 pandemic. It is very unfortunate that three million people have died and millions of others have been seriously affected. But I believe that everything has an end, and this too shall pass.