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A CDC panel recommends mRNA COVID-19 vaccines over J&J’s, citing fewer risks

An advisory committee for the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention voted unanimously December 16 to recommend mRNA COVID-19 vaccines over Johnson & Johnson’s shot.

When there is a choice, people seeking a COVID-19 shot should be told that the mRNA vaccines, made by Moderna and by Pfizer and its German partner BioNtech, are safer and more effective and are the preferred option.

But people who have allergies to ingredients in the mRNA vaccines and those who want the single-dose vaccine can still opt to get J&J’s vaccine. The benefits of that shot, authorized for those 18 and older, still outweigh the risks. And as a single-shot vaccine, it’s been a crucial tool for getting vaccines to people who are incarcerated or transitory, such as the homeless.

The recommendation followed new data indicating that a blood-clotting side effect of J&J’s shot, while rare, affects more than just young women. Of the 14.1 million people in the United States who got the J&J jab from March 2 through August 31, 54 developed a blood-clotting condition known as thrombosis with thrombocytopenia, or TTS (SN: 4/23/21). Nine have died, including one person vaccinated after August 31. Blood clots following the vaccine are suspected in two other deaths as well.

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