Coronavirus Vaccine Updates: FDA warns of rare reaction to Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine

COVID-19 Live Updates, News and Information
NEW YORK (WABC) -- U.S. regulators have added a new warning to Johnson & Johnson's COVID-19 vaccine about links to a rare and potentially dangerous neurological reaction, but said it's not entirely clear the shot caused the problem.

The Food and Drug Administration announced the new warning, flagging reports of Guillain-Barre syndrome, an immune system disorder that can causes muscle weakness and occasionally paralysis. Health officials described the side effect as a "small possible risk" for those getting the shot.

The action comes after the FDA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reviewed reports of about 100 people developing the syndrome after receiving the one-dose vaccine. Almost all of were hospitalized and one person died, the FDA said.

Guillain-Barre syndrome occurs when the body's immune system mistakenly attacks some of its nerve cells, causing muscle weakness and sometimes paralysis that typically is temporary. An estimated 3,000 to 6,000 people develop the syndrome each year, according to the CDC.

Here are more of today's headlines:



Grandmother of 11 considered 'walking miracle' after beating COVID, pancreatitis
A grandmother of 11 is being called a "walking miracle" for beating the odds and surviving COVID-19 and pancreatitis.

Alisa White, 61, returned to Huntington Hospital on Tuesday six months after a procedure that saved her life.

Delta variant cases on the rise
The dangerous Delta variant is ripping through unvaccinated communities, with cases up at least 10% in half of the country Tuesday. In 17 of those states, hospitalizations are up 10% as well. Arkansas, where hospital admissions are up nearly 60%, is pointing to the state's youth.

"They have not gotten vaccinated at the same rate as those who are older," Governor Asa Hutchinson said. "They've resisted it. They've put it off."

California now says any K-12 student who refuses to wear masks inside classrooms or school buildings in the fall will be banned from campus.

Vaccinated man gets breakthrough COVID case
A California couple says they were fully vaccinated but still contracted COVID-19 while on vacation as experts say breakthrough cases are possible, especially with the delta variant. However, health officials say the vaccine is still the best defense against the virus. The highly contagious variant of the novel coronavirus that was initially identified in India is now the dominant strain in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Health officials and experts alike have warned that the delta variant is a more infectious version of the disease, and preliminary data indicates it may increase the risk of hospitalization. The variant has also shown to be particularly dangerous to those who are unvaccinated or partially vaccinated against COVID-19.

Delta variant now dominant COVID-19 strain in NJ
The Delta variant of COVID-19 is now the predominant strain in New Jersey, according to Governor Phil Murphy and health officials. The highly contagious strain that originated in India and is surging around the globe now accounts for 41% of new variant cases in the Garden State last month, overtaking the Alpha variant that was first documented in the United Kingdom. For the week ending June 26, Delta accounted for 70% of identified variant cases. Murphy stressed that health experts say the three available vaccines are effective against the variant, and he urged people to get vaccinated.

"Virtually all COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths are among those who are unvaccinated," state Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli said. "Available vaccines are effective against the delta variant, preventing serious disease and hospitalization."

Pfizer asks for booster shot
Pfizer met with top U.S. health officials to discuss the drugmaker's request for federal authorization of a third dose of its COVID-19 vaccine, as President Joe Biden's chief medical adviser acknowledged that "it is entirely conceivable, maybe likely" that booster shots will be needed. The company says a third dose could dramatically increase immunity to new variants, though the CDC and FDA says a booster isn't needed at the moment. Vaccine hesitancy remains an issue though, and if there's a struggle to convince people to get both doses, three could be even more difficult. But legions of medical experts respectfully disagree with that viewpoint, and doctors say the data shows the vaccines provide thoroughly effective protection. Further data shows coronavirus infection rates are currently on the rise, due in large part to the highly contagious delta variant, and it's people like Koerner who are getting sick.

NJ residents to have digital access to vaccination record
New Jersey residents now have a digital option to view their COVID-19 vaccination records. The "Docket" app only provides coronavirus records, but plans are underway to expand it to other immunization records. The app is not considered a vaccine passport, which appears to be why the state chose it, although it appears it can act as one. Docket is currently used in Utah and will be rolled out in other states. Gov. Murphy urged vaccinated New Jerseyans to download the free app to get quick and easy access to state records.

4 more mass vaccinations sites shutting down in NY
Four more mass vaccination sites will cease operations as part of the ongoing downscaling and focus on localized vaccination efforts. The sites at Jones Beach, the Conference and Event Center Niagara Falls, Plattsburgh International Airport, and SUNY Polytechnic Institute - Utica will cease their operations following vaccinations on Monday, July 19. Additionally, Governor Cuomo announced the mass vaccination site at the New York State Fairgrounds will relocate from the Expo Center to the Arts & Home Center, effective Wednesday, July 14.

"As our vaccination efforts continue across the state, we are continuing to target communities that have lower vaccination rates and using every tool at our disposal to make the vaccine accessible to every New Yorker," Cuomo said. "In line with this strategy, the downscaling of our mass vaccination sites is proceeding as planned and we are shifting resources to where they are most needed, so we can get more shots into people's arms and defeat this virus once and for all."

NYC vaccination rates by zip code
There are about a dozen communities in the New York City area where three out of four people have not been vaccinated yet. 7 On Your Side Investigates created a map where the darkest colored zip codes have the most vaccinated New Yorkers and the lightest, the least.

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