In a statement released on Thursday, Rep. Jim Walsh, R-Aberdeen, responded to an announcement by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) that it was changing the criteria for those eligible to receive the Johnson & Johnson (J&J) COVID-19 vaccine due to concerns around blood clots.
According to the FDA’s announcement last Thursday, the J&J vaccine will be limited to “individuals 18 years of age and older for whom other authorized or approved COVID-19 vaccines are not accessible or clinically appropriate, and to individuals 18 years of age and older who elect to receive the (J&J) COVID-19 Vaccine because they would otherwise not receive a COVID-19 vaccine.”
In his statement, Rep. Walsh said, “The blood clot issue isn't new. Local health care providers and agencies started reporting the side effects last year in connection with the J&J shot.”
Walsh then continued by urging Gov. Jay Inslee to remove vaccine requirements, saying “COVID shots … don't work for all working people in Washington. The science and data recognize this. The governor must recognize it, too.”
“The FDA findings contradict a central assumption the governor made in his Emergency Proclamation 21-14.1: That all COVID-19 vaccines were safe and effective … The governor can stop this injustice by ending his Proclamation 21-14.1 and related edicts. In 21-14.1, the governor mentions 'our individual and collective duty' to do the right thing for the people of Washington. He needs to honor that duty now by recognizing the FDA's current science and data and end actions that force local agencies to fire essential workers, rather than inflict greater hardships on the people of this state,” Walsh added.
The representative then called for the state Legislature to convene a special session should Gov. Inslee refuse to remove vaccine requirements.
Walsh closed his statement by saying, “This is a great opportunity for the Legislature to work in a bipartisan effort for the people. If the governor won't fix the trouble he's made, we can and must.”
When asked for comment by The Chronicle, a spokesperson for Inslee responded by referring to Walsh’s statement as “fear-mongering from a fringe politician whose pandemic rhetoric has never been consistent with the facts.”
The spokesperson continued by saying the FDA’s decision would not affect the state’s vaccine mandate and that, “People should choose which of those three vaccines are right for them.”
The response also contained examples of individuals who are still eligible for the J&J vaccine. The provided list named “those who had a severe allergic reaction to an mRNA vaccine such as those from Pfizer/BioNTech or Moderna,” “Those with personal concerns about the mRNA vaccines who would remain unvaccinated without the J&J vaccine” and, “Those with limited access to mRNA Covid-19 vaccines” as being among the individuals still eligible to receive the J&J vaccine.