New data shows benefits outweigh risks on COVID-19 vaccine, CDC says

Posted at 2:47 PM, Aug 10, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-10 14:47:57-04

TAMPA, Fla. — The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released new data Tuesday that doctors and experts say show that while there could be risks associated with the COVID-19 vaccines, the benefits of the vaccines far outweigh any possible risks.

The CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices analyzed the data related to the Johnson & Johnson one-shot vaccine and the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines. The data revealed three conditions that developed in different subsets of people who received the vaccines. Specifically, the three conditions are Guillain-Barre Syndrome, Thrombocytopenia, and Myocarditis.

According to the CDC’s data, there have been 12.6 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine administered between February 27 and June 30. Out of those 12.6 million doses of the single-shot vaccine, the CDC said they had 100 confirmed reports of Guillain-Barre Syndrome or GBS. The Mayo Clinic said the syndrome is a rare disorder where your body’s immune system begins attacking the nerves and has no known cure.

As the CDC dug deeper into the impacted group, it found a pattern with the median age of those who developed the condition was 57 years old and 61 percent were males. Out of the 100 reports of GBS related to the J&J vaccine, the CDC said 95 were hospitalized, 10 of those were admitted to the intensive care unit, and one person died.

Overall, the GBS reporting rate from the J&J vaccine was 7.8 cases per million doses administered, but it was double that in males aged 50-64 at 15.6 cases per million doses.

The CDC’s ACIP also reported cases of thrombocytopenia. According to the Mayo Clinic, this is a condition where a patient develops a low blood platelet count, which can present bleeding problems with the body struggling to develop clots without a low platelet count.

ACIP reported 38 cases of thrombocytopenia developed in patients within 15 days of receiving the J&J vaccine. The CDC said the overall reporting rate was 3 per million doses, but women aged 30-49 years old had the highest case reporting rate at 8.8 cases per million.

The analysis by ACIP at the CDC also looked at the Pfizer and Moderna mRNA vaccines. In the same time period, ACIP said 141 million second doses of mRNA COVID-19 vaccines had been administered in the United States to people over the age of 18. Out of those 141 million doses, the CDC said they confirmed 497 cases of myocarditis.

Breaking the numbers down, ACIP said the overall reporting rate was 3.5 million per second dose administered. The group that showed the highest reporting rate were males 18-29 at 24.3 cases per million second doses administered. ACIP said there were zero reported myocarditis-associated deaths after a second dose of the mRNA vaccine.

Overall, the CDC said the report showed the estimated benefits outweigh the risks associated with vaccines.

“For example, per million doses of Janssen vaccine administered to males aged 50-64, 1,800 hospitalizations, 480 ICU admissions, and 140 deaths from COVID could be prevented compared with 14-17 cases of GBS and 1-2 TTS cases,” the CDC said.

Still, the CDC said the “balance of benefits and risks varied by age and sex because adverse events were primarily identified in specific subgroups of sex and age.”

Additionally, the CDC said it was important to tell everyone getting the COVID-19 vaccine about the benefits and risks, particularly in the age groups who might deal with GBS, thrombocytopenia, or myocarditis.

“Based on ACIP’s conclusion regarding the benefit-risk assessment on July 22, 2021, vaccination with any of the available COVID-19 vaccines licensed under the FDA EUAs continues to be recommended for all persons aged ≥18 years,” the CDC said. “With the Delta variant, this is more urgent than ever. In addition, the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine continues to be recommended for persons aged ≥12 years.”