Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine no longer recommended, so why do Virginia health leaders still offer it?

Coronavirus

PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) is following the lead of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advisory group and recommending Pfizer and Moderna vaccines over the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

Last week, the panel made the recommendation after rare but serious blood clots caused the death of at least nine people following their J&J vaccination. They also concluded the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are overall more effective in combating the coronavirus overall.

“Bottom line, this is simply about following the science. Virginia will be following the CDC’s recommendations, as we have throughout the course of the pandemic. This is all about vaccine safety – as it has been from the beginning. In April, the science indicated we should study this rare blood-clotting condition, and we followed the science then in recommending the 10-day pause. Today, further research indicates that this rare blood-clotting condition, though infrequent, warrants limiting administration of the vaccine. That’s what science is all about: We’ve collected and studied the data and are acting accordingly, all with the goal of patient safety foremost in our minds.”

Statement released by Virginia’s State Vaccination Liaison Dr. Danny Avula on Dec. 16, 2021

However, health officials will not be pulling them from their vaccination sites, according to Marshall Vogt, a senior epidemiologist with VDH’s Division of Immunization in the Office of Epidemiology.

“The J&J vaccine can still be used to prevent [COVID-19]. Some people may have allergic reaction to components to the mRNA vaccine or may want to stick with the J&J COVID-19 vaccine,” Vogt said.

Both Pfizer and Moderna are mRNA vaccines that require two initial doses roughly a month apart.

J&J’s vaccine initially was welcomed as a single-dose option that could be more palatable to those hesitant to get the shot.

However, now Vogt is even recommending those who received the J&J shot, get a booster of Pfizer or Moderna.

“The mRNA vaccines are a little more effective at preventing COVID-19 and also have a lower risk of these rare conditions that can develop,” Vogt said.

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