The White House and top health officials indicated Tuesday that a pause on the Johnson & Johnson single-shot COVID-19 vaccine won’t have a lasting or significant impact on the federal government’s vaccination plan.
Earlier in the day, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommended a pause on the vaccines after reports of rare blood clots among recipients. The agencies are investigating blood clots in six women days after they got the shot.
Acting FDA chief Dr. Woodcock told an online news conference later that she believes the J&J vaccine ban will last a matter of days, while Jeff Zients, President Joe Biden’s virus response coordinator, said in a statement that “this announcement will not have a significant impact on our vaccination plan.”
The “Johnson & Johnson vaccine makes up less than 5 percent of the recorded shots in arms in the United States to date,” Zients added. “Based on actions taken by the President earlier this year, the United States has secured enough Pfizer and Moderna doses for 300 million Americans,” he said.
“Over the last few weeks, we have made available more than 25 million doses of Pfizer and Moderna each week, and in fact this week we will make available 28 million doses of these vaccines. This is more than enough supply to continue the current pace of vaccinations of 3 million shots per day,” Zeints added.
More than 6.8 million doses of the J&J vaccine have been administered in the United States, with the vast majority having no or mild side effects, officials have said.
The CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices will meet Wednesday to discuss the blood clot cases. The FDA said it is investigating.
“The time frame will depend, obviously, what we learn in the next few days, however, we expect it to be a matter of days for this pause,” Woodcock said Tuesday.
Last week, several vaccine sites in North Carolina, Colorado, Iowa, and Georgia that were using the J&J shot were paused after some recipients developed adverse reactions. J&J is a single-shot vaccine, while Pfizer and Moderna—which are the other two approved by the FDA for emergency usage—use two shots.
CDC’s Dr. Anne Schuchat said authorities have not seen similar clots after the use of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, and that people should continue to get vaccinated with those shots.
Johnson & Johnson said in response that the “safety and well-being of people who use our products” is the company’s number one priority, adding it is aware of an “extremely rare disorder involving people with blood clots in combination with low platelets in a small number of individuals who have received our COVID-19 vaccine.”
The firm added it’s “reviewing these cases with European health authorities,” and it had “made the decision to proactively delay the rollout of our vaccine in Europe.”