The following statement can be attributed to M. Isabelle Chaudry, Esq. Senior Policy Manager.
In light of the recent decision by the U.S. government to resume using Johnson & Johnson vaccines in the race to protect vulnerable people from COVID-19, we are struck by the disparity between publicly disclosed information about the J&J vaccine and the extreme lack of information about other products marketed by the same company – specifically cosmetics and other personal care products.
J&J’s COVID-19 vaccine is a life-saver. It’s also a killer. It saves many more people than it kills – likely tens of thousands of lives saved for every person killed. And to be clear, more than 6.8 million doses of the J&J vaccine have been administered in the U.S., the vast majority with no or mild side effects. Three women have died from blood clots caused by the shot. The J&J vaccine is worth using, especially because we can make the risk-benefit odds even better by fully informing people about the possibility of a blood clot and how to recognize the warning signs.
It’s called full disclosure, and it’s something the NWHN believes should be required for all products that affect our health – including personal care products. But full disclosure is not required for personal care products. Johnson & Johnson, the same company that has agreed to add warning information to its vaccine, is not held to the same standard for cosmetic and personal care products.
Personal care products may seem benign, but in actuality they can include toxic and harmful chemicals such as parabens, formaldehyde, sulfates, phthalates, lead, and contaminated talc. Johnson and Johnson has even gone so far as to knowingly target Black women and other women of color with their asbestos-contaminated baby powder product.
For those considering the COVID-19 vaccine, the list of ingredients for specific vaccines can be found on the Food and Drug Administration’s website. This is not the case for ingredients used in cosmetic and personal care products that we use, often daily, on our skin. Rather, there is no requirement for manufacturers to list all the ingredients contained in the personal care and cosmetics products, test the products, and recall the products that are discovered to be harmful.
If women can get the information that we need to be informed and decide whether or not to take the COVID-19 vaccine, then women should be able to get the information we need to make decisions about the chemicals that go into the products that we use on our skin. The NWHN is working with allies in the environmental, consumer and women’s health community to persuade Congress to regulate personal care products. More information about our campaign is available here.
M. Isabelle Chaudry, J.D., is the Senior Policy Manager for the NWHN and an advocate for marginalized communities of women. Isabelle actively lobbies and provides expert testimony before Congress and the FDA for women’s health and cosmetic policies. She is an LL.M candidate in International Human Rights and Humanitarian Law and a Board Member for Women’s Voices for the Earth.