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A panel of advisers to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have unanimously recommended that the agency push Americans to get COVID-19 vaccines from either Moderna or Pfizer and shun the Johnson & Johnson shots over blood clotting concerns.
While the clotting is rare, nine deaths so far have been linked to the J&J jab, while the vaccines from the other two pharmaceutical companies do not come with the risk while also appearing to be more effective against the virus.
The recommendation is unusual, but the unanimous decision gives CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky plenty to think about in deciding whether or not to accept the recommendation, DailyMail.com reported.
Up to this point, the agency has been recommending all three companies’ vaccines as an equal choice after large studies found that they all offered significant protection against COVID-19 and early vaccine supplies were very limited.
“J&J’s vaccine initially was welcomed as a single-dose option that could be especially important for hard-to-reach groups like homeless people who might not get the needed second dose of the Pfizer or Moderna options,” DailyMail.com noted on Friday. “But the CDC’s advisers said Thursday that it was time to recognize a lot has changed since vaccines began rolling out a year ago.”
It’s not clear how significant the recommendation will be, even if Walensky accepts it: More than 200 million Americans have already been vaccinated, and only 16 million of them took the J&J jab.
The CDC panel of experts went on to note that the mRNA vaccines produced by Pfizer and Moderna have never had the same clotting risk. The panel also noted that, unlike earlier this year, vaccines from both of those manufacturers are in plentiful supply now, meaning there is no reason to have to rely on the J&J vaccine any longer.
Also, the experts noted that the J&J vaccine appears to be less effective against the newest omicron variant and that a booster is recommended two months after the initial dose, while it is six months for the Moderna and Pfizer shots.
While COVID-19 itself can cause rare blood clots, vaccines made by both J&J and AstraZeneca can produce an even rarer immune response that triggers clotting as well.
“Both of those vaccines are made similarly, using a cold virus known as an adenovirus, although AstraZeneca’s shot is not used in the U.S.,” DailyMail.com added.
Meanwhile, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the Biden administration’s chief medical adviser, said the omicron variant will be the dominant strain in the country soon.
“Certainly what [Omicron] is showing us in other countries [is that it spreads faster than other variants] and I believe soon in our own country,” Fauci told “Good Morning America” on Thursday.
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