COVID-19 cases rising as FDA restricts who can get Johnson & Johnson vaccine

Johnson & Johnson vaccine
Posted at 3:44 PM, May 06, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-06 15:44:44-04

(WXYZ) — COVID cases continue to rise across the US including here in Michigan – with Omicron’s BA.2 subvariant behind the uptick in cases.

I can see numbers going up. Because the virus continues to develop new mutations that allow it to spread even faster than previous variants. We’ve been seeing this with Omicron.

Right now BA.2 is dominant but BA.2.12.1 is quickly gaining ground. It’s currently spreading about 50% faster each week. So while numbers may likely rise, it doesn’t mean we’ll see another surge.

Having said that, the virus is unpredictable so we can’t rule a surge out. Especially since new research indicates people who had been infected with Omicron‘s BA.1 variant can get reinfected with Omicron’s BA.2.12.1 variant. And those who are unvaccinated have a higher risk of reinfection than those who are vaccinated.

The FDA is restricting the use of Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine because of a dangerous blood clotting syndrome called TTS. TTS is short for thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome. Thrombosis happens when blood clots block blood vessels and thrombocytopenia is a condition where you have low blood platelets. Severe thrombocytopenia can cause bleeding in the brain. Women between the ages of 30 to 49 have had the highest rate of TTS after J&J’s vaccine.

Now, the FDA says it identified 60 cases of TTS and nine of them were fatal. So, why would the FDA still allow J&J’s vaccine to be used? Because they recognize that this vaccine still has a role in the current pandemic. And because TTS is very rare – there’s been over 18.7 million doses administered here in the US.

So what are the new limitations? Well, people must be aged 18 and older. They can get the vaccine if they’ve had a severe allergic reaction to either Moderna or Pfizer’s mRNA vaccines and therefore can’t get a second or booster dose. A person is also allowed J&J’s vaccine if it’s the only vaccine they’d get - due to personal reasons – and therefore would otherwise remain unvaccinated. Lastly, the shot is allowed if a person lives in an area with limited access to the mRNA vaccines. These restrictions also apply to booster doses.

So once again, I’ll stress the importance of getting fully vaccinated and boosted when you’re eligible, preferably with Moderna or Pfizer’s mRNA vaccines. And let’s be very mindful that our COVID case numbers are rising here in Michigan. How much our numbers rise, really depends on our actions and behaviors. And wearing masks, washing hands, and getting vaccinated really go a long way in keeping our numbers low.

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