Per updated endorsements from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the North Dakota Department of Health (NDDoH) is advising vaccine providers in the state of a clinical preference of the mRNA COVID-19 vaccines (Pfizer and Moderna) over the Johnson & Johnson (Janssen) COVID-19 vaccine.
”Both the mRNA and the Janssen COVID-19 vaccines continue to be safer than being unvaccinated and risking COVID-19 illness and associated severe outcomes; however, mRNA vaccines have a better safety profile and should be chosen over the Janssen vaccine,” said Molly Howell, immunization director for the NDDoH.
This updated guidance comes from unanimous recommendations made by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) following close monitoring of vaccine effectiveness, safety, and rare side effects. Janssen COVID-19 vaccine is associated with rare blood clots known as thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome (TTS). Through August, 54 cases of TTS were reported to the Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System (VAERS) in the U.S. out of more than 14.1 million doses of Janssen vaccine administered. The U.S. and North Dakota have an abundant supply of mRNA vaccine doses ready to be administered.
There are 37,058 Janssen COVID-19 doses that have been administered in North Dakota, accounting for less than four percent of the over 949,000 total COVID-19 vaccine doses administered in the state to date. No cases of TTS after receiving the Janssen vaccine have been reported in North Dakota. Individuals who are unable or unwilling to receive an mRNA vaccine will continue to have access to Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine after being counseled about the risks of TTS.
“We have made important strides in the year since the COVID-19 vaccination program started,” said CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky. “More than 200 million Americans have completed their primary vaccine series, providing protection against COVID-19, preventing millions of cases and hospitalizations, and saving over a million lives. Today’s updated recommendation emphasizes CDC’s commitment to provide real-time scientific information to the American public. I continue to encourage all Americans to get vaccinated and boosted.”
The NDDoH encourages those who are not yet vaccinated against COVID-19 to get vaccinated as soon as possible to protect themselves, their families, loved ones and communities. All people ages 5 years and older are eligible to be vaccinated. Additionally, booster shots are strongly recommended for individuals 16 years and older, and are especially important due to the recent emergence of the COVID-19 B.1.1.529 variant known as Omicron. Preliminary data from the United Kingdom indicate that booster doses are likely necessary to provide high protection against the Omicron variant. No Omicron cases have been detected in North Dakota at this time.
For the most updated and timely information and updates related to COVID-19, visit the NDDoH website at health.nd.gov/coronavirus, follow on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and visit the CDC website at cdc.gov/coronavirus. Residents of North Dakota are encouraged to speak with their health care provider or local pharmacist if they have questions about vaccines or boosters. For more information on vaccine locations, visit health.nd.gov/covid-vaccine-locator.