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FDA restricts Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine due to blood clot risk

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WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. regulators on Thursday strictly limited who can receive Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine due to a rare but serious risk of blood clots.

The Food and Drug Administration has said the vaccine should only be given to adults who cannot receive a different vaccine or who specifically request J&J’s vaccine. U.S. authorities have been recommending for months that Americans starting their COVID-19 vaccinations use the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines instead.

FDA officials said in a statement that they decided to restrict J&J’s vaccine after re-examining data on the risk of life-threatening blood clots within two weeks of vaccination.

LOOK: Can the “vaccine for the world” help end the global pandemic?

The decision is the latest restriction to hit J&J’s single-dose vaccine, which has long been eclipsed by the two more effective shots from Pfizer and Moderna.

In December, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended prioritizing Moderna and Pfizer vaccines over those from J&J because of its safety concerns. Previously, US officials had treated all three vaccines the same because they had each been shown to offer strong protection.

But follow-up studies have consistently shown less efficacy for J&J’s vaccine. And while the blood clots seen with the J&J shot are rare, officials say they still happen.

Editor’s note: Johnson & Johnson is a funder for the PBS NewsHour.

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