Texas Recommends Resuming J&J Vaccines after CDC, FDA Gives Green Light
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Texas Recommends Resuming J&J Vaccines after CDC, FDA Gives Green Light

By Karen Brooks Harper, Texas Tribune

Texas Recommends Resuming J&J Vaccines after CDC, FDA Gives Green Light

Texas health officials on Friday told vaccine providers across the state that they could resume using the one-dose COVID-19 Johnson & Johnson vaccine in all adult recipients after a federal health advisory panel recommended it be reinstated. The recommendation came 11 days after the use of that particular vaccine was paused over a small number of reports of a rare but serious clotting side effect in recipients.

Hours later, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration lifted the pause and recommended that providers begin resuming the use of the vaccine immediately, with updated information and guidelines about the clotting syndrome.

"I know this is welcome news for many, as many have wanted the Johnson & Johnson vaccine to fill an important need in vaccination efforts here and around the world," CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said in a Friday evening news conference. "In the end, this vaccine was shown to be safe and effective for the vast majority of people." 

On Friday afternoon, the CDC advisory panel said that it recommends reinstatement of the shot because the benefits of vaccination far outweigh the clotting risk associated with the shot.

The vaccines will likely be available as early as Saturday, federal officials said, as providers wait for updated fact sheets from the FDA to help explain the risks to recipients.

The news comes a day after state health officials said that a Texas woman who received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine had been hospitalized with blood clots and that her condition was being investigated by the CDC as potentially connected to the vaccine. No other details were released.

CDC officials Friday reported 15 total cases reported of the clotting syndrome connected to the vaccines— all in women, mostly in those under 50. Three of them died. Nearly 8 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine have been administered nationwide.

Some 616,000 Johnson & Johnson doses had been administered in Texas before the vaccine’s use was paused 11 days ago, said Imelda Garcia, associate commissioner of the Texas Department of State Health Services.

Texas health officials said Friday that with the new recommendations, more doses are expected to be made available to the state as early as the weekend and those doses will be allocated as soon as providers place their orders with the state. Meanwhile, more than 700,00 first doses of Pfizer and Moderna vaccines will go to nearly1,000 all providers in 129 Texas counties next week, officials said.

More than 16.8 million doses of vaccine have been administered in Texas, with almost 10.5 million people receiving at least one dose, and about 7 million — about a third of all Texans ages 16 and older — are now fully vaccinated. Some 48,000 Texans have died of COVID-19.

The Johnson & Johnson vaccine, lauded by many as being particularly well-suited for some of the most hard-to-reach and highest-risk people, was key to Texas’ effort to fully and quickly vaccinate most of its population of 29 million people.

This article was first published in Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan media organization that informs Texans — and engages with them — about public policy, politics, government, and statewide issues.

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