In an announcement that is stunning in its health ramifications, a panel for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said today that most Americans should get the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine for Covid-19, rather than the Johnson & Johnson shot, which can cause serious blood clots. Press release here.
Although considered rare, the clotting has led to the death of nine people, while the CDC says Moderna and Pfizer doesn’t appear to have that risk, and also appears to be more effective in preventing serious cases of Covid.
Johnson and Johnson issued a statement defending its vaccine.
CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky has the final say on whether to accept the panel’s recommendation. She has accepted all of the panel’s recommendation since she became head of America’s leading health agency.
The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is a one-shot treatment, while Pfizer and Moderna require two shots for what is considered full effectiveness, although it’s now widely known that the virus is mutating and breaking through the vaccine’s protective device. Boosters are needed for all three of the vaccines, and to date, it’s unclear how long Americans will have to get a booster shot every six months to be partially protected from the effects of Covid.
Until Thursday, the government had maintained all three Covid vaccines are equal, although concerns about J&J have been rampant. Some people chose the Johnson and Johnson vaccine because it requires just one shot, while others took it because it was what was available. The homeless and transients have disproportionately received the J&J shot because it’s hard to track them down to give them a second shot.
In April, CDC had been cautionary about the Johnson & Johnson shot, but even though reports suggested the vaccine increased the risk of of a rare adverse reaction called “thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome,” which involves blood clots with low platelets, particularly in adult women younger than 50 years old, the government recommended use of the vaccine.
After pausing its use in October, in November, the CDC said the benefits of J&J outweighed the risks, and recommended people continue to receive the shot.
The CDC still has the Johnson & Johnson vaccine on its recommended list, but only for those 18 and older.
More than seven million Americans have been given Johnson & Johnson shots so far, and another 10 million doses have been shipped, as of October.