Resume the J&J vaccine, but with warnings for younger women

Source: Leana S. Wen, Washington Post (Paid Registration)

Friday’s vote by an advisory committee to the Centers for Disease and Control Prevention to resume administering the Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccine was the right decision, but with a serious mistake: There should be an explicit warning against the vaccine’s use in women under the age of 50.

The initial six cases of thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome (TTS) all occurred in women between the ages of 18 and 49. The new reports were also all in women. Of the 15 TTS cases, 13 were in women under the age of 50, with a median age of 37. Of note, only two women were on oral contraceptives (a known risk factor for blood clots), and there were no other reasons identified as to why these individuals were likely to develop this rare condition. The only commonalities identified were their age and gender—and recently receiving the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. Of the 15 women with TTS after vaccination, seven remain hospitalized, four in critical condition. Three have died.

If there were no alternatives, the benefits of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine would surely outweigh the risks. But that’s not the case. There are two other very safe and effective vaccines that do not pose any risk of TTS. Why not issue a warning that advises women under 50 to receive one of these two other vaccines instead?

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