CDC, Western States Recommend mRNA COVID-19 Vaccines over Johnson & Johnson Vaccine

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) this week officially recommended mRNA COVID-19 vaccines over Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine. ACIP, in a unanimous vote, issued its clinical preference following a robust review of the latest evidence on vaccine effectiveness, safety, and rare events.

At issue is the potential for a rare but serious blood clotting disorder known as thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome (TTS). According to new data from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), both men and women may be at an elevated risk for TTS after receiving the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine. The risk was highest among women ages 30-49. Nine deaths have occurred due to the disorder, and the FDA this week updated its face sheets indicating that the vaccine should not be used in people who experienced clotting problems after a first dose.

Recall, earlier this year, federal officials placed a temporary pause on the vaccine after reports of TTS. Several weeks later, the pause was lifted, allowing administration of the vaccine to resume nationwide.

CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky, following the ACIP recommendation, endorsed the clinical preference for mRNA COVID-19 vaccines over Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine. The CDC move follows similar recommendations issued by other countries, including Canada and the United Kingdom. The CDC indicates the Johnson & Johnson vaccine will remain on the market, and the ACIP reaffirmed that receiving any vaccine is better than being unvaccinated.

California Health and Human Services Agency (CalHHS) Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly and California Department of Public Health Director Dr. Tomás Aragón issued a joint statement on the Western States Scientific Safety Review Workgroup’s recommendation on the preferred use of Moderna and Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines over the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. State officials urged residents to receive their COVID-19 vaccine and booster to prevent a winter surge.

Additional information on the updated recommendation is available here.