Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Why the CDC now recommends mRNA COVID vaccines over J&J’s

The Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech COVID vaccines are preferred over the Johnson & Johnson vaccine to prevent COVID-19 in people 18 years of age and over, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention now says. The agency’s expert vaccine panel, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, voted unanimously on Thursday to change its official recommendations.

A rare blood clotting syndrome, thrombosis with thrombocytopenia, is more common than previously thought in people who received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, according to new data the panel reviewed. The CDC has logged the condition in 54 recipients of the vaccine since it became available in 2020—all were hospitalized, and nine people have died. While that’s still only a few cases for every million people vaccinated, it is a higher rate than was thought when the CDC last assessed the risks of different vaccines.

The “updated recommendation emphasizes CDC’s commitment to provide real-time scientific information to the American public,” CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said in a statement.

The CDC first learned of blood clotting as a COVID vaccine side effect in April 2021, causing the US to pause its rollout of the J&J shot for two weeks. Then, only 15 recipients of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine had reportedly developed thrombosis with thrombocytopenia, out of about 6.8 million. Later that same month, the country resumed administering the vaccine, which is made by Johnson & Johnson subsidiary Janssen Pharmaceuticals.

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