April 19, 2021
Federal health officials will likely make a decision by Friday about whether to end the pause on the use of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine, Anthony Fauci, MD, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said on Sunday.
The CDC and FDA recommended a temporary pause last week after six women reported a rare blood-clotting disorder. The women, who are between ages 18-48, experienced symptoms six to 13 days after receiving a Johnson & Johnson shot.
"A decision almost certainly will be made by Friday," Fauci said on CBS News' "Face the Nation."
"I don't really anticipate that they're going to want to stretch it out a bit longer," he said. "I don't know what [the decision] is going to be, but thinking about what the possibilities are, one of the possibilities would be to bring them back but to do it with some form of restriction or some form of warning."
The blood-clotting disorder is incredibly rare, Fauci added. However, those who have received the Johnson & Johnson shot should monitor for any symptoms such as severe headaches, difficulty in movement, chest discomfort or difficulty with breathing.
A potential restriction on the Johnson & Johnson vaccine could include gender-based guidance because those affected have been women, Fauci said. At the same time, he emphasized that only six people have developed the disorder among millions of vaccine recipients and the blood-clotting disorder can also occur among men.
"That's one of the points we want to be careful," he said. "You don't want to jump ahead of yourself and decide you know the total spectrum of this, which is one of the reasons why they paused."
The pause has raised concerns about vaccine hesitancy in the U.S. Public health officials have worried that people may reject the Johnson & Johnson vaccine or conflate the pause with other vaccines made by Pfizer and Moderna. On Sunday, Fauci stressed that all three vaccines were approved by the FDA and are highly effective against COVID-19. He also pointed out that the CDC's symptom surveillance system worked correctly in catching the rare blood disorder and that the same surveillance system is used for all three COVID-19 vaccines.
"Thus far, there have been no red flags of that [with the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines], even though tens and tens and tens of millions of people have been vaccinated with those vaccines," he said. "So one of the things you can take away from all of this is that when the surveillance system, the CDC and the FDA say that something is safe, you can be sure that it's safe."