CDC director approves panel’s recommendation for Pfizer or Moderna vaccines

A panel that advises the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on vaccines Thursday met to consider possible restrictions on the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine over new data on a rare blood clot issue.

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Update 1:05 a.m. EST Dec. 17: CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky endorsed the recommendations made by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, the agency said in a news release.

“We have made important strides in the year since the COVID-19 vaccination program started,” Walensky said in a statement. “More than 200 million Americans have completed their primary vaccine series, providing protection against COVID-19, preventing millions of cases and hospitalizations, and saving over a million lives. Today’s updated recommendation emphasizes CDC’s commitment to provide real-time scientific information to the American public. I continue to encourage all Americans to get vaccinated and boosted.”

Update 4:05 p.m. EST Dec. 16: The CDC recommended that most people should get either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, The Associated Press reported. The decision was made Thursday.

The panel said the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines do not have the same risks of clotting and seem to be more effective against COVID-19.

Dr. Rochelle Walensky still has to approve the decision, the AP reported.

Original report: The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices will consider new information regarding an increase in blood clot rates for those who have taken the J&J vaccine. While the clots are still considered an extremely rare side effect, an increase in instances of clots in younger women has some health officials concerned, the Post reported.

“We are committed to understanding and communicating all known risks, including rare events of [the blood clot condition], and strongly support raising awareness of the signs and symptoms of this rare event,” Johnson & Johnson spokesperson Jake Sargent told The Post via email.

At least four people had died from blood clotting complications associated with the company’s vaccine, according to the CDC.

A federal official reportedly told the Post that nine people have died due to blood clotting complications related to the vaccine.

On April 13, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the CDC called for a temporary halt to the use of J&J’s vaccine “out of an abundance of caution” while it investigated six women who, within about two weeks of receiving the shot, had developed blood clots in combination with having low blood platelets.

The women’s ages ranged from 18 to 48. Ten days later, the CDC said it had determined that the benefits of the inoculations outweighed their risks.

According to the FDA, the blood clotting issue has been seen more in women between the ages of 30 and 49.

The CDC could recommend the vaccine be distributed as it is now, be used only for certain groups, or have it discontinued altogether. Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the CDC director, would be the one to make a final decision on the use of the vaccine.