CDC recommends mRNA vaccines as “preferred” over J&J

Dec. 17, 2021

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has endorsed updated recommendations made by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) for the prevention of COVID-19, expressing a preference for an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine over Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine.

On Thursday, ACIP voted unanimously to recommend a preference for the mRNA vaccines after a discussion about the “latest evidence on vaccine effectiveness, vaccine safety and rare adverse events, and consideration of the U.S. vaccine supply,” the CDC said in a statement.

The CDC says its recommendation follows similar recommendations from other countries, including Canada and the United Kingdom.

However, the CDC also said, “Given the current state of the pandemic both here and around the world, the ACIP reaffirmed that receiving any vaccine is better than being unvaccinated. Individuals who are unable or unwilling to receive an mRNA vaccine will continue to have access to Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine.”

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has granted emergency use authorization (EUA) to mRNA COVID-19 vaccines from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna.

Since it received EUA from the FDA as a one-dose shot, further evidence has shown that its effectiveness wanes over time. The CDC has recommended a booster shot after two months.

A bigger concern is a rare but serious blot clotting disorder — thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome (TTS) — that has been associated with the vaccine.

During the committee meeting Thursday, CDC officials said there were 54 cases of TTS associated with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine between March 2-August 31, 2021. Of the 54 patients, all were hospitalized, 36 were admitted to an ICU, and eight died. The highest rate of cases occurred in females between 30-49 years of age.

Johnson & Johnson released a statement after the vaccine committee’s vote, saying it “remains confident in the overall positive benefit-risk profile of its COVID-19 vaccine.”

The FDA recently announced revisions to its fact sheets about the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine for providers, as well as for and vaccine recipients and caregivers. The revisions warn of a contraindication in the administration of the vaccine to people with a history of thrombosis with thrombocytopenia.

The change applies to the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine or any other adenovirus-vectored COVID-19 vaccine, the agency said.

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