A CDC panel voted Thursday, December 16, 2021, to recommend the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines are preferred for adults over the Johnson & Johnson vaccine due to a small number of very rare but dangerous blood clots.
Out of approximately 17 million people in the United States who have gotten the J&J vaccine, there have been nine deaths from the condition called thrombosis with thrombocytopenia, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices said Thursday.
Among those who died from the condition, the median age was 45. There were seven women and two men, all non-Hispanic whites. Among them, seven were obese, three had hypertension and two had diabetes. Two of the patients had no known medical condition.
The cases of TTS have been reported in a wide range of individuals 18 years and older. The highest reporting rate was among women ages 30 to 49, where it was one case per 100,000 doses administered. Overall, 15% of TTS cases have been fatal, the Food and Drug Administration said.
Getting the J&J vaccine was still much safer than any risk of the rare side effect because getting COVID-19 is much more likely to cause severe disease or death, ACIP members said.
When the side effect first came to light in April, federal health officials halted its use for 10 days. The pause was lifted after the FDA conducted a safety review.
The majority of COVID-19 vaccines given in the United States use the mRNA platform. Between them, Pfizer and Moderna have provided 468 million doses so far, according to the CDC.