UVA Health expert lends insight to Johnson & Johnson vaccine restriction

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has put a limit on the use of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine.
Published: May. 6, 2022 at 6:14 PM EDT
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The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has put a limit on the use of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine. Now, only certain people can get it.

You can only get the Johnson & Johnson COVID vaccine if you are 18 or older and unable to get Pfizer or Moderna’s mRNA shots.

The FDA is restricting its use due to a rare but serious risk of blood clots after vaccination. This problem first came up last Spring.

One UVA Health doctor says the Johnson & Johnson shot is still a useful tool to have.

Doctor Bill Petri has been studying the Coronavirus with UVA Health since the beginning of the pandemic. He says this restriction is a sign of how carefully they are following the safety of these vaccines.

“This is the kind of complication you only see after the vaccine has been approved, because clinical trials were 50,000 people, not 50 million people that would have required,” Dr. Petri said.

This side effect could have been only predicted through clinical trials with millions of people in the study.

He emphasizes this is a rare side effect, with two cases for about every three million to get the vaccine.

While Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are more effective and do not have this complication, Dr. Petri says that is not a reason to ditch J&J entirely.

“The rare person has an allergic reaction to the Pfizer Moderna, it’s nice to have J&J in your back pocket so that you can use it in that situation,” Dr. Petri said.

The Blue Ridge Health District no longer offers the Johnson & Johnson shot. Sentara Martha Jefferson Hospital says it never offered this vaccine. According to UVA Health’s website it is still currently offering the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

“It may come to the point where J&J stops offering it at all, I hope that’s not the case because there are going to be rare people who can’t tolerate the mRNA vaccines and then this is still a very safe vaccine,” Dr. Petri said.

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