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CDC Halts Administration of J&J Covid Vaccines in United States, Orders Remaining Doses to Be Destroyed

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has announced that the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine is no longer available in the United States. All remaining doses of the vaccine expired last week, and the CDC has directed healthcare providers to dispose of any remaining doses they may have had.

According to CDC data, approximately 19 million people in the US have received the J&J vaccine since its initial availability. However, more than 31.5 million doses were delivered to states and other jurisdictions, leaving around 12.5 million doses unused.

The CDC had previously limited the emergency use authorization of the J&J vaccine to adults who could not receive other vaccines due to the risk of the rare clotting condition known as thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome (TTS). The J&J vaccines were linked to 60 confirmed cases of TTS, including nine deaths, according to the CDC.

Only about 7% of vaccinated individuals in the US received the J&J vaccine as their first shot, with the majority opting for the mRNA vaccines from Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna.

While wealthier nations have primarily chosen the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna vaccines due to their effectiveness against COVID-19 variants, poorer countries have relied on the Janssen vaccine as it is a single-dose option and more affordable.

With the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency now over in the US, the mRNA vaccines from Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna will continue to be administered free of charge, as long as federal supplies last.

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) had earlier restricted the use of Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen COVID-19 vaccine. The vaccine was only administered as a last resort to adults who are medically ineligible for another approved vaccine or have no access to an alternative vaccine and specifically request the J&J vaccine.

Last year, Johnson & Johnson temporarily halted production of its single-dose COVID-19 vaccine at its Leiden plant in the Netherlands, the sole facility manufacturing usable doses of the vaccine. The company redirected its efforts at the plant towards developing an experimental drug to combat an unrelated respiratory virus. Johnson & Johnson has not provided a timeline for the resumption of vaccine production at the facility.

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OPINION: This article contains commentary which reflects the author's opinion.