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Tipsheet

New Zealand PM: Vaccine Side Effects Show It's 'Doing What It Should'

Tomohiro Ohsumi/Pool Photo via AP

Jacinda Ardern, New Zealand's Prime Minister since 2017, was answering reporters' questions this week when she addressed Wuhan coronavirus vaccines and reported side effects... but her comments only created more questions.

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"The side effects that people experience with vaccines," something "which we all have come to expect," PM Ardern said, are "a sign that the vaccine’s doing what it should.” Huh?

There are some side effects that accompany most vaccinations, a sore arm from a needle piercing muscle, for example, but are other potentially more serious side effects really a good thing recipients should take as a positive sign?

In the United States, the "CDC and its partners are actively monitoring reports of myocarditis and pericarditis after COVID-19 vaccination," conditions defined by the CDC as "inflammation of the heart muscle" and "inflammation of the outer lining of the heart," respectively. "In both cases, the body’s immune system causes inflammation in response to an infection or some other trigger." The CDC is also investigating the lasting effects of myocarditis because while "Most of these people fully recover...information is not yet available about potential long-term effects."

Are these heart conditions a welcome "sign that the vaccine's doing what it should," as Prime Minister Ardern said? Well, if they are a good sign, the CDC doesn't seem to agree as officials currently consider recommending a longer period of time between doses of mRNA vaccines to try and lessen the potential impact on recipients' hearts. 

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Last April, public health officials in the United States temporarily paused use of the Johnson & Johnson's vaccine due to concern over blood clots. A statement at the time posted to the CDC's website explains that "As of April 12, more than 6.8 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson (Janssen ) vaccine have been administered in the U.S. CDC and FDA are reviewing data involving six reported U.S. cases of a rare and severe type of blood clot in individuals after receiving the J&J vaccine."

Are blood clots another side effect that showed the J&J vaccine was doing what it should?

This is hardly Ardern's first misstep when it comes to messaging about the Wuhan coronavirus. Most recently, as Leah reported here, the Prime Minister talked smugly about how her COVID policies and vaccine mandate have created two classes of citizens in New Zealand. 

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