MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - A CDC advisory committee says they need more time to gather data before they make a recommendation about the vaccine’s future.
The panel is investigating rare blood clots that could be linked to the vaccine.
The CDC Advisory Panel on Immunization Practices, which is chaired by Arkansas Health Secretary Dr. Jose Romero, met for four hours on Wednesday to take a closer look at the reported blood clot cases.
They debated the risks and benefits of not making a recommendation immediately and the impact that could have on people in some areas not being able to get vaccinated.
Despite those concerns, most seemed to agree they need more time.
Of 7.2 million J&J doses administered across the country, six patients, all women between the ages of 18 and 48, developed the blood clots.
The symptoms, including severe headaches and abdominal pain, developed between six and 13 days after they were vaccinated.
NBC News spoke to one of the women, who is hospitalized in Nashville.
“I went to the ER, a week after the shot when I was having fever. They didn’t find anything strange in my blood work. So, went home and just continued to kind of worsen over the following week,” she said. “And then when I went back to the ER is because my leg was so swollen that I couldn’t really walk, so at that time they found the DVTs or the clots in my legs.”
The CDC says of the six cases reported, one woman died, three remain in the hospital, including two in intensive care, and two have been discharged.
Dr. Steve Threlkeld, an infectious disease expert at Baptist Memorial in Memphis, says it’s important to remember the risk of developing blood clots is extremely low and says people shouldn’t fear getting vaccinated
“The thing we have to guard against is people taking this phenomenon and trying to use it to suggest vaccines in general or even the COVID vaccines, in particular, are unsafe,” said Threlkeld. “I think far from it and if we want to be alive and healthy a year from now the safest pathway is still far, far, and away is to get any of those vaccines and that would include the J&J vaccine.”
Threlkeld says he believes the J&J vaccine will be given out again.
The next CDC advisory panel meeting on the J&J vaccine will likely happen in the next seven to 10 days, so the pause will remain in effect at least until then.
It will give the experts more time to gather data.
Several experts on the panel stressed that the J&J vaccine pause should not be indefinite.
Meanwhile, Mid-South health leaders say there’s plenty of vaccines available from Pfizer and Moderna, which have not had any problems associated with rare blood clots.
The availability of the other two vaccines is one reason doctors on the CDC panel felt more comfortable holding off on making a recommendation about the J&J vaccine.