US health panel urges restarting J&J COVID-19 vaccinations

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A U.S. health panel says it’s time to resume use of Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine, despite a very rare risk of blood clots. Out of nearly 8 million people vaccinated before the U.S. suspended J&J’s shot, health officials uncovered 15 cases of a highly unusual kind of blood clot, three of them fatal. All were women, most younger than 50.

But advisers to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Friday the vaccine’s benefits outweigh that serious but small risk — especially against a virus that’s still infecting tens of thousands of Americans every day. The government will rapidly weigh that recommendation in deciding next steps.

In other developments:

  • Demand for the coronavirus vaccine has fallen off in some places around the United States to the point where some counties are turning down new shipments of doses.
  • The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is recommending that pregnant people receive COVID-19 vaccinations. A CDC study published this week found no safety concerns with Moderna and Pfizer vaccinations given during the third trimester of pregnancy.
  • Appointments are no longer mandatory at any of the coronavirus vaccination sites run by New York City, including its newest and maybe coolest location: beneath the giant blue whale at the Museum of Natural History.
  • Medical providers may soon return to using one medical N95 mask per patient, a practice that was suspended during the pandemic due to deadly supply shortages.
  • Japan on Friday declared a state of emergency to curb a rapid coronavirus resurgence, the third since the pandemic began. The measures in parts of Japan, including Tokyo, have so far failed to curb infections caused by a more contagious new variant of the virus.
  • Effective immediately, fully vaccinated individuals in the NFL (players, coaches, staff and executives) are no longer required to be tested each day for the novel coronavirus. Instead, they must be tested weekly on a monitoring basis.
  • Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says Canada has reached an agreement with Pfizer for 35 million COVID-19 booster doses for next year, and 30 million in 2023 with options for tens of millions more in future years.
  • The European Medicines Agency said Friday that people who have received a first dose of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine should also get the second one despite the rare risk of blood clots that have been linked to the shot.