CDC director says any vaccine is better than none, recommending J&J Covid shots

Rochelle Walenski, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, oversees the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington DC on July 20, 2021.

Stephanie Reynolds | Swimming pool | Reuters

CDC Director Dr Rochelle Walenski said Friday that she supports the advisory committee’s decision to keep Johnson & Johnson’s Covid-19 vaccine on the market despite the rare but serious side effect that some people have caused blood clots.

“Given the current state of the pandemic, both here and globally, any vaccination is better than no vaccination,” Walensky said during a press briefing by the White House’s Covid-19 response team. “Individuals who cannot or do not want to receive an mRNA vaccine will continue to have access to Johnson & Johnson’s Covid-19 vaccines.”

The Vaccine Agency Advisory Committee on Thursday unanimously recommended Pfizer and BioNTech or Moderna’s Covid-19 vaccines, which use non-clotting mRNA technology, rather than J&J vaccines, which use more traditional virus-based technology. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has confirmed 54 cases in which women, mostly younger, developed blood clots with low platelet counts – a new condition called thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome, or TTS – after J&J shots. Of these cases, 36 required intensive care unit treatment.

Data presented by a panel of experts showed that the highest risk of STTS is observed in women aged 30 to 49 years.

The committee unanimously voted in favor of the preferred recommendation to make the J&J vaccine available to those unable or unwilling to receive the other two vaccines.

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