Clarifying the CDC's Recommendation to Get Pfizer or Moderna – Over the Johnson & Johnson Vaccine
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The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has endorsed the unanimous decision of an advisory committee to recommend use of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines over the single shot from Johnson & Johnson.
Nonetheless, the CDC reaffirms that receiving any vaccine is better than being unvaccinated. Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine is not being removed from the market. “Individuals who are unable or unwilling to receive an mRNA vaccine will continue to have access to Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine,” the CDC said. In a statement, Johnson & Johnson said it “remains confident in the overall positive benefit-risk profile” of its vaccine.
The CDC advisers cited increasing evidence that Johnson & Johnson’s shots can trigger a rare blood clot disorder now linked to dozens of cases, and at least nine deaths in the U.S. last year. New data found that there was a higher risk for the blood clotting condition than previously thought. The risk was highest among women aged 30 to 49, estimated at 1 in 100,000.
“Today’s updated recommendation emphasizes CDC’s commitment to provide real-time scientific information to the American public,” said CDC Director Rochelle Walensky, M.D. “I continue to encourage all Americans to get vaccinated and boosted.”
The CDC said the advisors’ unanimous recommendation followed “a robust discussion of the latest evidence on vaccine effectiveness, vaccine safety and rare adverse events, and consideration of the U.S. vaccine supply.”
The U.S. supply of the mRNA vaccines — from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna “is abundant – with nearly 100 million doses in the field for immediate use,” the CDC states.
With the rapid emergence of Omicron as the dominant variant, which is more transmissible than the Delta variant, public health officials are urging all individuals 16 years and older who are fully vaccinated with the two-shot mRNA vaccines to get a third dose, or booster. All individuals initially vaccinated with the Johnson & Johnson can get a booster shot from either Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna for optimal protection from severe illness.
“For sure, if you’ve got the J&J (Johnson & Johnson vaccine) which a lot of people did, we recommend that you do go out and get either a Pfizer or a Moderna booster to get protection,” explains Madeline Camejo, M.S., Pharm.D., chief pharmacy officer and vice president of pharmacy services for Baptist Health South Florida. “You no will no longer be protected with the one shot, especially with what’s happening in our community. And today, everyone 16 years and older is eligible for the booster shot.”
Dr. Camejo is joined by Samer Fahmy, M.D., chief medical officer at Boca Raton Regional Hospital; and Jonathan Fialkow, M.D., deputy medical director and chief of cardiology at Miami Cardiac & Vascular Institute, for the most recent Baptist HealthTalk podcast: Omicron, Boosters and COVID Pills: A Look Ahead.
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