EL PASO, Texas -- It's another major setback for Johnson & Johnson after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration added a warning that the J&J vaccine could be linked to a neurological condition. However, local experts say the benefits of the vaccine still outweigh the risk.
The FDA announced the warning, flagging about 100 reports of Guillain-Barre syndrome. It's an immune system disorder that can cause muscle weakness and extreme cases paralysis.
"Patients will notice some weakness, particularly in the legs, they may have some numbness," said Dr. Edward Michaelson, chairman of the department of emergency medicine at the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center of El Paso.
Dr. Michaelson said most of the reports were in men, but at very small numbers. "I feel reassured that it was identified because this is a very rare complication," he said. He added that he doubts the Borderland will see any reports of the syndrome linked to the vaccine.
"This is a really incredibly small risk. And I have to say, I think you might be at greater risk of being involved in a car wreck and getting injured on your way to the vaccine center, then the risk of actually becoming ill as a result of the vaccine," Michaelson said.
As of last week, El Paso's seven day positivity rate was slightly above five percent, compared to less than three percent at the beginning of June. Michaelson said with cases rise, the benefits of getting vaccinated outweigh the risk.
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