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The Johnson & Johnson vaccine could soon be available again as early as this weekend with a new warning about the rare chance of incurring a blood clot, it was revealed Thursday.
Federal health authorities are unlikely to call for any sort of age restrictions on the vaccine and appear to be taking a position similar to the European Medicines Agency, which announced this week the shot should carry a warning but still be available to anyone eligible, the Washington Post reported.
They found the shot’s benefits, and its use for hard-to-reach populations like the elderly, the homebound and the homeless, continue to outweigh the risks associated with it.
The current position of health authorities could change if a sudden influx of reports about blood clots or other serious side effects comes in, but that appears unlikely, two government officials speaking on the condition of anonymity told the outlet.
The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, which advises the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, is set to discuss the future of J&J’s use in the US on Friday following a temporary pause on the use of the vaccine.
The CDC and the Food and Drug Administration, which share responsibilities when it comes to vaccines, recommended a temporary halt on the one-dose jab after six women out of about 7.5 million people reported serious blood clots after they were inoculated, including one who died.
The heads of the CDC and the FDA both declined to tell the outlet whether they plan to recommend an end to the pause, saying they didn’t want to get ahead of the panel’s meeting.
However, they did say the prevalence of blood clots post-inoculation does still appear to be rare — CDC director Rochelle Walensky said they’ve only received a “handful” of additional cases and a final number will be made public during Friday’s meeting.
“We are not being inundated with things that we are concerned about. We didn’t have hundreds and thousands of people coming in and saying, ‘Oh wow, I had one of those,’” Walensky told the outlet.
Since the side effects appear to be so rare, federal officials think the complication can be addressed simply by adding a warning and directing doctors on how to recognize and treat the issue, which requires different medicine than the common treatment for blood clots.
If the advisory committee votes Friday that the pause should be lifted, the CDC and FDA have the ability to recommend resuming use of the vaccine almost immediately.
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