CDC examining 'handful' of additional severe cases possibly linked to J&J vaccine

Decision to lift a suspension on the J&J vaccine could come as early as Friday.

April 19, 2021, 3:31 PM

The U.S. is looking into additional cases of severe side effects possibly linked to the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention director Dr. Rochelle Walensky.

"These have been a handful of cases, not an overwhelming number of cases," Walensky said at a White House briefing on Monday. "We are working through and adjudicating them, and verifying whether they do, in fact, reflect a true case."

The CDC and Food and Drug Administration called for a pause in the use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine after six in nearly 7 million recipients reported severe adverse reactions, including blood clotting, once they received it.

PHOTO: Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention attends a House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis on the Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., April 15, 2021.
Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention attends a House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis on the Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., April 15, 2021.
Amr Alfiky/The New York Times via AP, Pool

Though Walensky insisted the number of possible new cases with serious reactions to the Johnson & Johnson vaccine aren't large, it is still unclear how many more there are in addition to the ones that have already been reported.

A decision to lift a suspension on the distribution of Johnson & Johnson vaccine could come as early as Friday when a CDC panel meets to discuss the findings.

"I believe we'll get back with it and there might be some restrictions," said Dr. Anthony Fauci on ABC's "This Week" Sunday. "Not sure what that will be, whether they'll be age or sex or whether they'll just come back with a warning of some sort."

PHOTO: In this March 3, 2021, file photo, a vial of the Johnson & Johnson's COVID-19 vaccine is seen at Northwell Health's South Shore University Hospital in Bay Shore, N.Y.
In this March 3, 2021, file photo, a vial of the Johnson & Johnson's COVID-19 vaccine is seen at Northwell Health's South Shore University Hospital in Bay Shore, N.Y.
Shannon Stapleton/Reuters, FILE

The Biden administration and federal regulators argue that the suspension of administering the J&J vaccine shows that the health care system's infrastructure is working and shows that the oversight of the vaccine distribution is effective.

But the temporary pause of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine could also be raising questions among Americans who are already skeptical of taking any vaccine to begin with.

"We leave it up to you. Look at the data, the data speak for themselves," Fauci said. "We all want normalcy in America, the highway to that normalcy is vaccination."

At this point, the Biden administration has also made it clear that it does not intend to divert vaccine supply away from states where vaccination numbers are still coming in low.

"We are not going to quote-unquote punish, less -- less-ready areas," said White House COVID-19 response coordinator Andy Slavitt. "We're going to actually work harder with them to make sure that people have the information they need."

PHOTO: A man receives the Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine at the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 399 union hall vaccination site in Chicago, on April 6, 2021.
A man receives the Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine at the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 399 union hall vaccination site in Chicago, on April 6, 2021.
Kamil Krzaczynski/AFP via Getty Images

With all Americans 16-years-old and up now eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine, Fauci said that it's concerning to see certain portions of the American population still hesitant to take the vaccine.

"It's very disturbing that on the basis of political persuasion people are not wanting to get vaccinated," said Dr. Fauci on CBS This Morning. "Those are the ones that keep saying you're encroaching on our liberties by asking us to wear masks and to do the kinds of restrictions that are public health issues. The easiest way to get out of that is to get vaccinated."

Related Topics

ABC News Live

ABC News Live

24/7 coverage of breaking news and live events