FDA, CDC lift recommended pause on Johnson & Johnson vaccine

FDA, CDC lift recommended pause on Johnson & Johnson vaccine
The FDA and the CDC have determined that the recommended pause regarding the use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine in the U.S. should be lifted and the use of the vaccine should resume. (Source: WALB)

ATLANTA, Ga. (WALB) - Following a thorough safety review, including two meetings of the CDC’s (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the CDC have determined that the recommended pause regarding the use of the Janssen (Johnson & Johnson) COVID-19 vaccine in the U.S. should be lifted and the use of the vaccine should resume.

The pause was recommended after reports of six cases of a rare and severe type of blood clot in individuals following administration of the Janssen COVID-19 vaccine.

During the pause, medical and scientific teams at the FDA and CDC examined available data to assess the risk of thrombosis involving the cerebral venous sinuses, or CVST (large blood vessels in the brain), and other sites in the body (including but not limited to the large blood vessels of the abdomen and the veins of the legs) along with thrombocytopenia, or low blood platelet counts.

The teams at FDA and CDC also conducted extensive outreach to providers and clinicians to ensure they were made aware of the potential for these adverse events and could properly manage and recognize these events due to the unique treatment required for these blood clots and low platelets, also known as thrombosis-thrombocytopenia syndrome (TTS).

The two agencies have determined the following:

  • Use of the Janssen COVID-19 vaccine should be resumed in the United States.
  • The FDA and CDC have confidence that this vaccine is safe and effective in preventing COVID-19.
  • The FDA has determined that the available data show that the vaccine’s known and potential benefits outweigh its known and potential risks in individuals 18 years of age and older.
  • At this time, the available data suggest that the chance of TTS occurring is very low, but the FDA and CDC will remain vigilant in continuing to investigate this risk.
  • Health care providers administering the vaccine and vaccine recipients or caregivers should review the Janssen COVID-19 Vaccine Fact Sheet for Healthcare Providers Administering Vaccine (Vaccination Providers) and Fact Sheet for Recipients and Caregivers, which have been revised to include information about the risk of this syndrome, which has occurred in a very small number of people who have received the Janssen COVID-19 vaccine.

CDC’s independent Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices met Friday to discuss the latest data on TTS, hearing from the vaccine manufacturer Janssen and the COVID-19 Vaccine Safety Technical (VaST) Subgroup, as well as a risk-benefit analysis. ACIP is committed to being vigilant and responsive to additional information that could impact the risk-benefit analysis of any of these vaccines.

Vaccine safety monitoring will continue and any new information about TTS will be brought to ACIP as needed.

“Safety is our top priority. This pause was an example of our extensive safety monitoring working as it were designed to work—identifying even these small number of cases. We’ve lifted the pause based on the FDA and CDC’s review of all available data and in consultation with medical experts and based on recommendations from the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices. We have concluded that the known and potential benefits of the Janssen COVID-19 Vaccine outweigh its known and potential risks in individuals 18 years of age and older. We are confident that this vaccine continues to meet our standards for safety, effectiveness, and quality. We recommend people with questions about which vaccine is right for them to have those discussions with their health care provider,” said Dr. Janet Woodcock, acting FDA Commissioner.

“Above all else, health and safety are at the forefront of our decisions,” said CDC Director, Dr. Rochelle P. Walensky. “Our vaccine safety systems are working. We identified exceptionally rare events – out of millions of doses of the Janssen COVID-19 administered – and we paused to examine them more carefully. As we always do, we will continue to watch all signals closely as more Americans are vaccinated. I continue to be encouraged by the growing body of real-world evidence that the authorized COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective, and they protect people from disease, hospitalization, and death. I urge anyone with questions about the COVID-19 vaccines to speak with their healthcare provider or local public health department.”

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