Rochelle Walensky, Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, looks on prior to a Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee hearing on Capitol hill in Washington, D.C., July 20, 2021.
Stefani Reynolds | Pool | Reuters
CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said Friday she is standing by an advisory committee’s decision to keep Johnson & Johnson’s Covid-19 vaccine on the market despite a rare, but serious, side effect that has caused blood clots in some people.
“Given the current state of the pandemic, both here and around the world, any vaccination is better than no vaccination,” Walensky said during a press briefing by the White House Covid-19 response team. “Individuals who are unable or unwilling to receive an mRNA vaccine will continue to have access to Johnson & Johnson’s Covid-19 vaccines.”
The agency’s Advisory Committee on Vaccine Practices on Thursday unanimously recommended Pfizer and BioNTech’s or Moderna’s Covid-19 vaccines, which use mRNA technology that hasn’t been linked to the blood clots, over J&J’s, which uses a more traditional virus-based technology. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed 54 cases of mostly younger women who developed blood clots with low blood platelet levels — a new condition called thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome, or TTS — after receiving J&J’s shots. Of those cases, 36 required treatment in intensive care.
The panel’s presentation of the data showed the greatest rick of TTS is among females 30 to 49 years of age.
The committee voted unanimously on a preferential recommendation making the J&J vaccine available to those who are unable or unwilling to receive the other two vaccines.