Tampa Bay health experts weigh in ahead of CDC advisers meeting on Johnson & Johnson vaccine

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Posted at 4:57 PM, Apr 21, 2021

On Friday, CDC advisers meet again to look into the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine. It comes as the CDC and FDA review data involving six reported cases in the US of a rare and severe type of blood clot in people after getting that vaccine. Tampa Bay area health experts are weighing in on what the advisers could look at this week.

“I think they’re really just trying to make sure that they have the best data set they can get,” said Dr. Michael Teng, an associate professor at the University of South Florida.

All six cases happened in women between 18 to 48 years old, which health officials say appear extremely rare, compared to the nearly seven million doses of the J&J vaccine given out in the US as of last Monday.

Dr. Teng explained what happens Friday depends on the data advisers get.

“It’s very possible that there were more cases out there, that now more information has come in, and they see a really strong correlation. Maybe it is more strongly correlated with women who are of childbearing age. But it may be just that those six cases were it,” said Teng. “Maybe they just don’t see any more signal, which would be great, and that means that it’s a really rare side effect. That it’s something that clinicians, physicians should keep track in case they see something like this and that they will also know how to treat it.”

Teng says an important part is the committee letting doctors know what to look for. He also shared he thinks there’s no real way to tell who’s going to be affected adversely.

“For me personally, I don’t think, restrictions are not going to be all that useful with this vaccine because we don’t really understand how this disease comes up,” said Teng. “Even though we see a little bit of correlation, with six million doses that have already [been] given out, there are probably millions of women of childbearing age that have gotten the vaccine and that have been just fine or have had the normal side effects.”

Recommendations from the advisory group go to the CDC director.

For those who are still reluctant, Teng would tell people this vaccine is safe and they do see rare events happen with any other vaccines as well.

“These vaccines provide great protection against hospitalization and death,” said Dr. Teng. “It’s one of those things I think the benefits clearly outweigh the risks of any of the vaccines.”