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Experts address anxiety over Johnson & Johnson vaccine

COVID-19 brought a whole new level of anxiety to people in the last year, along with having to make the choice to be vaccinated.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — COVID-19 brought a whole new level of anxiety to people in the last year, along with having to make the choice to be vaccinated.

Experts said the announcement about the Johnson & Johnson vaccine can ramp up those worries further.

“After hearing all of this, I’m definitely a little more self conscious,” said Jovanna Cernatescu, who received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. “Just making sure, ‘Okay, do I have a headache? Does my stomach hurt?’ Stuff like that.”

Cernatescu, and so many others who received the J&J vaccine, are suddenly on high alert.

“When we have any situation with the unknown, our kind of fear response is heightened," said Dr. Tracy Alloway, a psychology professor at The University of North Florida. “And in part, this is a protective mechanism.”

Because of the unknown, Alloway said there’s always been so much uncertainty for many when it comes to the COVID-19 vaccines.

“There’s not scientific research 10 years down the road to know how it’s going to affect us,” Alloway said.

Out of more than 6 million recipients, six women between the ages of 18 and 48 reported potentially dangerous blood clots after receiving the J&J vaccine.

Alloway says it is important to put those numbers into perspective before worrying.

“In the big scheme of things, it’s a very low number compared to the risk of actually contracting COVID and dying from that,” Alloway said. “We can put it into that framework to understand better.”

Though Pedro Marra, who received the vaccine, does not fall into this current demographic, he worries for those around him.

“I do have a mom who got the shot and my girlfriend got the shot,” Marra said. “So I have to keep my eye out.”

The women reported these effects six to 13 days after the shot. Cernatescu received hers about a week ago. Though she knows the chances of these complications are currently less than one in a million, she wants to do what she can to have peace of mind.

“I want to schedule a doctor’s appointment to make sure my body is reacting okay after the vaccine,” Cernatescu said.

Alloway said what Cernatescu is doing is definitely healthy. If going to the doctor for a checkup is what gives you peace of mind, do it. She said it’s better to take proactive measure for your mental health than to let it consume you.