J&J shot to remain on pause for at least a week: CDC panel

Coronavirus

NEW YORK — Members of a CDC panel tasked with deciding the course of action on the Johnson & Johnson vaccine adjourned from its Wednesday meeting with a consensus to keep its pause on the vaccine in place while it continues its analysis.

The vaccine was put on hiatus Tuesday, and a day later, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices — or ACIP — agreed to reconvene in 7 to 10 days, to allow more information to come in and be reviewed by the panelists.

Meanwhile, health authorities in the tri-state region continued to vaccinate people using the two other approved vaccines, from Pfizer and Moderna.  

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But with the CDC review aside, Johnson & Johnson has its work cut out for it to shake any misgivings people may have about the safety of its vaccine.

At the vaccination megasite at the Jacob Javits Center, identical twin sisters Jennifer and Dayanara Iniguez were together outside. Jennifer had just gotten a Pfizer shot, but Dayanara had not been able to find an available appointment.  

When asked if she would take a Johnson & Johnson shot if and when the pause is lifted, Dayanara said she’s not interested.

“I don’t think I would get it,” she said, “because of what already happened. So I’m kind of [at risk].”

She and her sister, both 18, are in the demographic that’s been affected by severe — but extremely rare — blood clotting among people who’ve taken the J&J vaccine: women between the ages of 18 and 48. Six have fallen ill; one of them has died.

Read More: What’s known about J&J’s vaccine and rare clots

The next steps are for now uncertain, but New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy described one possible course of action at his COVID-19 briefing on Wednesday.

“It gets put back on the boards, with caveats,” the governor said about the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, “in terms of who should be taking it. AstraZeneca is exactly like that in Europe right now.”

In the meantime, in both his state and neighboring New York, health officials are working to ensure that people can still get vaccinated.

New York City Health Commissioner Dr. Dave Chokshi said that, for the foreseeable future, “The vast majority of New Yorkers who booked appointments for the J&J vaccine will keep the same appointment and receive Pfizer or Moderna instead.”

That’s not the case for New Yorkers scheduled to have the vaccines come to them; the homebound program is suspended through this Sunday, Chokshi said.

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He and Mayor Bill de Blasio both said that it’s a real challenge to vaccinate homebound New Yorkers using two-dose vaccines, like Pfizer and Modernae. That’s why, they said, they’re holding off on the homebound program for now.

At the federal level, members of the White House Task Force said on Wednesday that they’re searching to see if more blood clotting cases related to the Johnson a& Johnson vaccine exist.  

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