An advisory committee for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will meet on Wednesday afternoon to discuss whether the Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine should be paused while investigating a possible link to rare blood clots.
The emergency meeting follows Tuesday’s announcement by the Food and Drug Administration to investigate six cases of rare and severe blood clots in women aged 18 to 48, one of whom died. All of the women had received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine before developing the clot, although it is unclear whether the vaccine was responsible. As of Tuesday, more than seven million people in the United States had received the shot, and another 10 million cans had been shipped to the states, according to CDC data.
Following the call from federal health officials, all 50 states, Washington, DC and Puerto Rico on Tuesday quickly paused or advised vendors to stop administering the vaccine. The U.S. military, government-run vaccination centers, and a variety of private companies, including CVS, Walgreens, Rite Aid, Walmart, and Publix, also paused the injections.
The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) consists of independent experts who advise the CDC on its vaccine policy. During the meeting, the experts will review and debate the data from the six cases and listen to comments from the public before voting on how to proceed. You could vote to recommend, for example, that the break continue, or to indicate that it should only apply to a specific age or gender.
Federal officials said Tuesday the hiatus could only last a few days, though it depends on what officials learned from the investigation. The break was necessary in part because patients with these rare blood clots should not be given the standard treatment doctors prescribe for typical blood clots.
The worrying coagulation disorder among vaccine recipients is different – and much less common – than the typical blood clots that develop in hundreds of thousands of people each year. In addition to having clots in their brains, the six women also had remarkably low levels of platelets, parts of the blood that contribute to the formation of normal clots.
The committee’s assessment will be of vital importance at a time when the nation is trying to vaccinate as many people as possible to curb the steady buildup of cases, especially when worrying variants rise in importance. Some public health experts were disappointed with the FDA’s recommendation to suspend the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, arguing that preventing these extremely rare side effects was not worth the compromise of slowing the vaccination campaign and potentially increasing public confidence in vaccines Generally undermine.