CDC panel recommends not getting J&J Covid-19 vaccine if Pfizer or Moderna vaccine is available

An advisory panel to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Thursday that people shouldn’t get the Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine when the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna shots are available.  The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices convened following an update from the Food and Drug Administration on the risk of rare but potentially life-threatening blood clots linked to the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. At least 54 people in the United States — mainly women — have been hospitalized from these blood clots, and nine people have died.

The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices panel voted unanimously in favor of deeming the mRNA vaccines, from Pfizer and Moderna, the “preferred” options for adults over the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, ultimately concluding that the mRNA vaccines provided greater protection and fewer risks than Johnson & Johnson’s. The recommendation would not prohibit use of the Johnson & Johnson shot, but instead make clear that the other options are a better choice if they are available.  CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky will need to sign off on the recommendation.

Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine is linked to a blood clotting condition known as thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome, or TTS.  Johnson & Johnson uses an adenovirus technology to train the immune system to fight the coronavirus, whereas the shots developed by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna use a different approach, mRNA, to train the immune system, and have not been linked to these clots.

The Biden administration is urging all eligible Americans to get a booster amid the threat of the omicron variant. Initial data suggests three shots of the mRNA vaccines provide adequate protection against the new strain. In the U.S., the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are readily available. More than 570 million doses of Pfizer and Moderna have been delivered to providers, whereas only 28 million doses of Johnson & Johnson have been delivered.

Editorial credit: hedgehog94 / Shutterstock.com

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