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US has more than 9 million Johnson & Johnson doses ready to go if pause lifts

The US has more than 9 million doses of Johnson & Johnson’s coronavirus vaccine ready to be administered if federal health officials lift their recommended pause of the one-shot vaccine, CNN has learned.

President Joe Biden’s coronavirus adviser Jeff Zients told CNN there are more than 9 million doses that have already been distributed to states, tribes, territories and federal channels that are ready to go, depending on the conclusion reached by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) — a panel weighing whether to recommend a change in federal guidance on the vaccine.

On April 13, the CDC and the US Food and Drug Administration recommended pausing the administering of the one-dose Johnson & Johson coronavirus vaccine after six reported cases of women who developed a rare blood clotting syndrome after receiving the vaccine in the United States.

And later on Friday, a week and a half after the pause, the ACIP is expected to vote on any changes to its guidance for the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. If the committee recommends changes to the vaccine label — such as a warning, or changes to who it recommends should get the vaccine — CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky will sign off and then the FDA will have to make any label changes.

If the pause lifts, it’s still unclear how soon those shots will start going into arms, including whether it could take hours or days.

The CDC has learned of 15 cases of a rare blood clotting condition called thrombocytopenia syndrome (or TTS) linked with Johnson & Johnson’s coronavirus vaccine, an expert told CDC vaccine advisers Friday.

All have been among women, and 13 have been in women under the age of 50, the CDC’s Dr. Tom Shimabukuro told the panel. Three died, and seven remain hospitalized.

So far, patients with TTS linked with Johnson & Johnson’s coronavirus vaccine have started showing symptoms one to two weeks after getting the vaccine, Shimabukuro said.

The risk translates to about seven case of TTS per million doses of J&J vaccine given to women ages 18 to 49, Shimabukuro said, and just under 1 per million for women 50 and older.

“That does not mean there is no risk in males. There could be cases we did not identify in the database,” Shimabukuro said. “There could be cases that become apparent later on that just have not appeared.”

Both the Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccines appear to be setting off rare blood clotting events in a few people who get them, but no blood clots have been associated with coronavirus vaccines made by Moderna or Pfizer, experts told the panel.

This story has been updated with additional reporting.

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