Posted on December 17, 2021 in: Professional Practice
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommended Thursday that people receive COVID-19 vaccines and boosters from Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna, instead of the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine, citing the increased risk of potentially fatal blood clots for some people.
CDC Director Rochelle Walensky, MD, signed off on the policy just hours after a unanimous vote on the recommendation from the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices.
"Today's updated recommendation emphasizes CDC's commitment to provide real-time scientific information to the American public," Walensky said, urging everyone to get vaccinated and booster doses.
Data show there have been nine deaths — among seven women and two men — confirmed in connection with the blood clot issue through September. Seven of the individuals had underlying medical conditions. Two more deaths are being investigated, officials said, and dozens of people became ill.
About 17 million J&J vaccine doses have been administered, compared with about 470 million of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. CDC noted that mRNA vaccines are in plentiful supply, with almost 100 million doses in the field for immediate use.
In a statement, J&J noted it "remains confident in the overall positive benefit-risk profile of its COVID-19 vaccine. Studies have shown that the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine generates strong antibody and cellular immune responses and long-lasting immune memory and breadth of protection across variants." The company also said its vaccine is still an important option for individuals who "can't or won't return for multiple vaccinations, or who would remain unvaccinated without an alternative to the mRNA vaccines."
The CDC panel recommended that exceptions be made for individuals who have had allergic reactions to the mRNA vaccines, or where those vaccines are not available.