The Phoenix Flyer

CDC advisory panel advises against use of J&J vaccines and boosters

By: - December 16, 2021 6:23 pm

The Johnson & Johnson (Janssen) COVID vaccine is under more scrutiny, with nine deaths attributed to it. More than 17 million doses have been administered in the U.S. Photo by Stephen Zenner/Getty Images.

Update: CDC Director Rochelle Walensky late Thursday adopted the recommendation of the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices to express “clinical preference” for Pfizer and Moderna COVID vaccines and boosters over Johnson & Johnson’s COVID vaccine and booster. The J&J vaccine, despite a rare but serious side effect, will remain available for people who would otherwise remain unvaccinated, which puts them at risk of contracting COVID-19.

A 15-member advisory committee recommended Thursday afternoon that people taking COVID vaccines and boosters avoid those made by Johnson & Johnson, also called Janssen, due to rare but serious incidents of blood-clotting.

Instead, it recommends the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines, which are mRNA vaccines, both as initial immunizations and as boosters, including for people who got the one-dose J&J vaccine.

The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, or ACIP, recommended Thursday afternoon to the director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that CDC no longer endorse use of the J&J vaccine due to growing evidence that it poses a rare but serious risk of causing blood clots, most often in women of ages 30 to 49. The condition, which can be fatal, is called thrombocytopenia syndrome, or TTS.

In a live-streamed meeting, the CDC’s advisory committee discussed new data that show 54 confirmed cases of TTS through Aug. 31 among patients who took the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. All the patients were hospitalized within days of receiving the drug. Through Dec. 2, nine patients died, according to testimony Thursday from Dr. Sara Oliver to the advisory committee.

In the United States, 17.3 million doses of the J&J vaccine had been administered through Dec. 15, according to the CDC. Pfizer has been used most, with 284.1 million doses administered, and Moderna, with 186.5 million doses.

Dr. Oliver’s report, based on data from the World Health Organization, the CDC, and national health organizations overseas, says similar blood-clotting is reported after use of the AstraZeneca COVID vaccine. Further, it reports that the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is generally less effective against COVID than the mRNA vaccines across all age groups.

The report emphasized that the Johnson & Johnson vaccine remains the preferred or only option for incarcerated people, homeless people, shut-ins, and migrant populations — those having limited ability to receive vaccinations more than once.

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Laura Cassels
Laura Cassels

Laura Cassels is a reporter, former statehouse bureau chief, and former city editor. She is a classical pianist, a Florida State University graduate and proud alum of the Florida Flambeau, an independent college newspaper. Contact her at [email protected]