KANSAS CITY, Kan. — The Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine remains in limbo with concerns over blood clots. A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention panel decided not to make any new recommendations Wednesday.
The group of medical experts across the country are trying to determine if this is a needle in a haystack or just the tip of the iceberg.
A doctor with the University of Kansas Health System is on that team. Dr. Dana Hawkinson said the review process could only take a couple of days.
“We’re not talking about 1,000 cases or 100 cases,” Hawkinson said. “It’s six cases.”
The Food and Drug Administration and the CDC put a pause on the Johnson & Johnson vaccine after six rare blood clotting cases, with ties to low platelet counts, were reported in the U.S.
More than 6.8 million doses have gone into arms. One patient died, another in critical condition, at last check. They were all women ages 18-48.
Now, the CDC and FDA are investigating, doing a deep dive into each of these cases.
“Identifying all the information, all the details of those specific medical cases, reviewing it and then weighing the risks and the benefits of moving forward,” Hawkinson said.
As someone who is serving on a couple of similar data monitoring boards, Hawkinson said safety is the sole purpose of a review.
Dr. Catherine Satterwhite said the pause allows time, time to share possible side effects for the public to look for and a course of action for health care workers to treat them.
“It’s important to remember this is a pause, not a stop forever,” Satterwhite, regional health administrator for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, said. “We are asking states to hold supply while we go through this process.”
Wednesday’s emergency meeting of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices was a big part of the process.
Hawkinson is actually one of the 15 health experts on the roster.
He said the next step is to consult the FDA and CDC, make a decision on whether or not we can reuse the J&J vaccine and then get that information out to the public.
“There also may be further guidance about specific populations which we should or shouldn’t use them in as well,” Hawkinson said.
He also noted that right now, the risk of severe disease and death is much greater if you get COVID-19, compared to if you get any of the vaccines.