Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said she recognizes the importance of “moving quickly” on the paused Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine.
Responding to a question from CNN’s Kaitlan Collins during a White House Covid-19 briefing, Walensky said that sense of urgency is why the CDC is holding two emergency meetings of its independent vaccination advisory committee. The first meeting was held this week and the next meeting is scheduled for April 23.
When the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices met this week, members said it needed more data to understand potential risks of the J&J vaccine. Use of the vaccine was paused after the identification of six cases of a rare blood clots along with a low number of blood-clotting cells known as platelets. Walensky said the CDC is currently conducting a risk-benefit analysis of the J&J vaccine.
“What I would say to the American people is that, what we found is really extremely rare cases through our vaccine safety monitoring system,” Walensky said during Friday's briefing. “We want to convey to the American public, we have two vaccines that are readily, readily available, the Pfizer and Moderna, and people should continue to roll up their sleeves to get vaccinated.”
She said the CDC has also reached out to more than 10,000 providers to ensure that they know what kind of cases to look for in case other people experience these rare clotting issues after the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
US Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy added that the pause shows that the safety system is working. More than seven million people have received the J&J vaccine and the vast majority are “just going to be fine.”
“Just remember this is your safety system working for you,” Murthy said. “If anything, I believe should increase people’s confidence that they’re being told what’s going on.”