Federal officials are investigating a “handful” of additional reports of rare and severe blood clots among people who received Johnson & Johnson’s coronavirus vaccine, CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said Monday.
The Centers for Disease Control and the Food and Drug Administration are examining whether these are “true” cases before a federal vaccine advisory committee meets Friday to weigh lifting the federal recommendation to pause Johnson & Johnson shots.
“We are encouraged it hasn’t been an overwhelming number of cases, but we are looking on seeing what’s come in,” Walensky said in response to a question at a White House coronavirus briefing.
Federal agencies recommended the pause last week following six reports of clots and low platelets among the 7.5 million people who received the shot. Regulators could recommend resuming distribution of the shot with additional guidance to doctors, maintaining the overall pause or limiting the pause to certain groups.
The developments come as every American adult became eligible for vaccines Monday. Federal officials said obtaining a vaccine has become far easier than during an initial bumpy rollout marked by challenges securing appointments and a patchwork of eligibility requirements.
“The lack of supply, the shortage of locations, the confusing rules are all in the past,” Andy Slavitt, the White House senior adviser on the covid response, said Monday. “That can’t be said enough.”
Slavitt said nine out of 10 Americans are less than five miles from a vaccination site. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services plans to distribute $150 million to community-based health-care providers administering shots, he said.
Asked whether the Biden administration would reconsider its decision to allocate vaccines to states based on vaccine if demand becomes uneven, Slavitt said the country has “adequate” supply.
“Our philosophy is just because a state may be behind in their demand for vaccines, or it may take a little more work to get vaccines into arms in some places relative to others, it does not mean we think we should be giving up on those locations,” Slavitt said. “It does not mean that we think they should lose those doses and they should be automatically transferred somewhere else.”