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Immunization panel recommends J&J vaccine to people 30 and up, notes health risks

Monday, May 03, 2021 @ 4:52 PM | By Terry Davidson

Canada’s National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) is recommending Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine be given to people 30 and up and who do not want to wait for Pfizer or Moderna.

However, they must weigh the remote risk of blood clotting against the benefits of finally getting vaccinated should J&J’s Janssen vaccine be the first one they are offered.

On May 3, NACI issued an update that included the recommendations for the single dose, “viral vector” vaccine, which is currently in a holding pattern by Health Canada due to quality control issues at a manufacturing facility in the U.S.

“At this time and based on current evidence, NACI recommends the Janssen COVID-19 vaccine may be offered to individuals 30 years of age and older without contraindications, if the individual does not wish to wait for an mRNA vaccine and if the benefits outweigh the risk for the individual,” it states.

NACI states that with the Janssen vaccine being single dose, it “may be better suited for populations that are harder to schedule for a second dose,” such as “mobile populations and certain hard to reach populations.”  

But the advice also comes with a warning similar to that attached to AstraZeneca.

Health Canada approved the Janssen vaccine in March, but on April 26 provided an update based on a handful of incidents of blood clotting reported in the U.S.

NACI officials have reportedly said that vaccine-induced immune thrombotic thrombocytopenia (VITT) has occurred in 17 of the roughly eight million Americans who have received the shot.

NACI states that people should weigh this risk with the levels of COVID-19 in their respective communities.

An option is to hold out for another vaccine.

During the media briefing, NACI officials said that mRNA vaccines remain the preferred vaccines.

“What we’ve said all along is that the mRNA vaccines are the preferred vaccine, yet given the epidemiology, the viral vector vaccines are very effective vaccines, but there is a safety signal, a safety risk … and the issue with the safety signal is although it is very rare, it is very serious, and so individuals need to have an informed choice to be vaccinated with the first vaccine that is available or to wait for an mRNA vaccine. They need to be aware that those are the options available to them,” said NACI vice-chair Dr. Shelley Deeks.

As for AstraZeneca, Canada has reported seven confirmed cases of VITT following the administering of AstraZeneca out of the more than 1.1 million doses administered. One death was reported out of Quebec on April 27 after a 54-year-old woman died after receiving a shot in early April.

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