On Thursday, US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention vaccine advisers will meet to discuss potential new safety issues regarding Johnson & Johnson’s Covid-19 vaccine, and evaluate whether booster vaccinations will need to be given in the future — especially for people with compromised immune systems.
CDC Meeting Will Be Held On Thursday; The Need For Boosting Against Coronaviruses And The Safety Of J&J Vaccines
The advisory committee on immunization practices (ACIP) will meet on September 28 from 11 am to 4:30 pm. The upcoming meeting will not include any votes on items on the panel’s agenda. In addition to its specialized members in the field of virology, immunology, pediatrics, internal medicine, nursing, public health, and infectious diseases, the ACIP includes medical experts in other fields as well. As soon as the votes have been cast, the CDC accepts its recommendations.
ACIP has been instrumental to the outbreak’s containment, including advice regarding emergency uses for three existing Covid-19 vaccines in the United States, permission for Pfizer’s 12- to the 15-year-old vaccine, and, in April, to resume production of the J&J vaccine following the discovery of a rare blood clotting disorder among vaccine recipients.
There will be several important new topics discussed by ACIP on Thursday regarding the safety and durability of the Covid-19 vaccine. The ACIP will begin by reviewing current data on cases of Guillain-Barré Syndrome (GBS) among people who have received J&J’s coronavirus vaccine for Covid-19. Officials report that about 100 preliminary cases of GBS have been reported among some 13 million people who have received the vaccine — a rare neurological disorder caused by the body’s immune system damaging nerve cells.
GBS was listed as a rare risk in the J&J vaccine label last week by the US Food and Drug Administration. On tomorrow’s agenda, ACIP will consider whether the benefits of the J&J vaccine still outweigh the risk of GBS given this adverse event. It is expected that ACIP will say yes.
In a CNN interview, ACIP member and professor William Schaffner, of Vanderbilt University Medical Center’s Division of Infectious Diseases, said that caution is the driving force behind tomorrow’s meeting. It is expected there will be no formal votes, and that the vaccine risks are very low. There are risks involved, but they are very low, he added.
The ACIP will also oversee booster vaccines against Coronavirus, with the focus on determining how many boosters are necessary for people with immunosuppression. CDC guidelines are being revised for fully vaccinated individuals due to reports that Covid-19 vaccines are not as effective in people with weakened immune systems. In it, those who are immunocompromised are warned that their vaccinations may not be as effective as if they were not vaccinated, and they are advised to take safety measures as if they were not vaccinated. CDC officials have not yet formally endorsed booster shots.
Booster programs are a key component of ACIP’s agenda tomorrow, as well as a review of what data is available. ACIP will demonstrate tomorrow how thin the evidence discrepancies in favor of boosters, said Schaffner, ensuring that its members will reject boosters.
A report from Israel indicates that the Coronavirus is still spreading and that the Delta variant of the virus is more virulent than the Coronavirus. Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, continues to warn the US should wait for more research before recommending boosters for coronavirus vaccines.
Last week, Fauci told CNN’s Chris Cuomo that the CDC and FDA said they would not recommend an increase based on current data. This does not mean though that that will never change or that they will not need to give boosters at some point, whether to all or a select group of people, such as the elderly or those with underlying conditions.
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