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CDC Recommends Pfizer and Moderna Vaccines Over J&J Due to Rare Side Effects

CDC Recommends Pfizer and Moderna Vaccines Over J&J Due to Rare Side Effects

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) changed its recommendations for Covid-19 vaccines Thursday to make clear that shots made by Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech are preferred over Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine. The new recommendation now reads, “mRNA vaccines are preferred over the Janssen Covid-19 vaccine for the prevention of Covid-19 for those 18 years of age and over.”

Earlier on Thursday, the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices endorsed the updated recommendation after hearing new data indicating that a rare blood clotting syndrome is more common among people who recently got a J&J vaccine than previously believed. CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky accepted the updated recommendation within hours.

HINES, ILLINOIS – SEPTEMBER 24: Lalain Reyeg administers a COVID-19 booster vaccine and an influenza vaccine to Army veteran Gary Nasakaitis at the Edward Hines Jr. VA Hospital on September 24, 2021 in Hines, Illinois. Today, CDC Director Rochelle Walensky endorsed a booster shot of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for people 65 years and older, those with underlying medical conditions or those who work in high-risk situations. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

The CDC has logged 54 cases in the US of thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome, or TTS, since the vaccine became available. Nine people have died — seven women and two men. Those rates are higher than previously estimated among both men and women, the CDC said. While only a few cases have been seen for every million people vaccinated by age group, they are higher than what was believed when vaccine advisers were last briefed. Thirty-nine of the 54 reported cases occurred before the CDC and the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) paused the administration of the vaccine in April to investigate the link. The agencies resumed permission for the vaccine’s use later in April.

The risk of myocarditis — a rare heart inflammatory condition — is lower for the Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech vaccines than the risk of blood clots from the J&J vaccine. But younger men may be advised to avoid mRNA vaccines, so complete removal of recommendations for the J&J vaccine would cause problems.

Earlier this week, the FDA strengthened language in the fact sheet that goes along with the J&J vaccine, saying it should not be given to anyone with a history of TTS. There is, however, no clear risk factor for predicting who will develop the condition after getting the vaccine, the CDC said.

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