In a recent statement released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), it has been confirmed that the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine is no longer available in the United States. The CDC’s statement indicates that all remaining U.S. government stock of the Janssen (Johnson & Johnson) COVID-19 vaccine expired on May 7, 2023. As a result, all doses of the vaccine in the country are to be disposed of in accordance with local, state, and federal regulations.
The Johnson & Johnson vaccine was initially authorized for emergency use in the United States in February 2021. It gained popularity due to its single-dose requirement and non-mRNA technology, as opposed to the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. However, its use was significantly slowed down after the FDA released a statement a year ago, severely restricting its use due to concerns over a rare and potentially life-threatening blood clotting disorder known as thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome (TTS).
According to the FDA’s statement at that time, individuals who were allergic to mRNA vaccines or preferred not to take them were the only ones recommended to receive the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. The U.S. government subsequently halted the purchase of the vaccine. Recent research conducted by the CDC revealed that the incidence of TTS was significantly higher among individuals who received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine compared to those who received the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines.
TTS, also referred to as vaccine-induced prothrombotic immune thrombocytopenia (VIPIT) or vaccine-induced immune thrombotic thrombocytopenia (VITT), is a serious condition characterized by blood clots and low platelet levels. Symptoms can vary depending on the location of the thrombosis, and they typically appear between 4 and 42 days after vaccination. These symptoms may include persistent headaches, vision changes, seizures, abdominal pain, chest pain, shortness of breath, leg pain or swelling, symptoms of a heart attack, bruising, rashes, and general bleeding.
It is important to note that TTS is a grave health concern that can lead to long-term disability or even death if not recognized and treated promptly. In light of these safety concerns, the CDC has issued new recommendations for individuals aged 18 years and older who have received one or two doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. They are now advised to receive one bivalent mRNA dose of either the Moderna or Pfizer vaccine at least two months after completing the previous dose.
From a financial perspective, the back-and-forth surrounding the Johnson & Johnson vaccine will cost U.S. taxpayers an estimated $125 million. The U.S. government had agreed to pay approximately $1 billion for 100 million doses of the vaccine, but only purchased 31.5 million doses. With 19 million people having received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, approximately 12.5 million doses will go to waste.
Johnson & Johnson executives stated in an earnings call last month that they do not expect significant sales of the COVID-19 vaccine moving forward, as their contractual commitments are already complete. The vaccine’s emergency use authorization is still technically viable for adults who choose to receive it but is no longer physically available in the United States.
In conclusion, the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine is no longer available in the United States, according to the recent statement by the CDC. The decision comes after concerns regarding the rare blood clotting disorder TTS and its association with the vaccine. The CDC has issued recommendations for individuals who have received the Johnson