New guidance recommends Pfizer or Moderna mRNA vaccines over Johnson & Johnson

The Western States Scientific Safety Review Workgroup has confirmed its support of the recommendation that people 18 and older receive an mRNA (Pfizer or Moderna) COVID-19 vaccine over Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine, given the greater effectiveness and stronger safety profile of mRNA vaccines.

The new guidance also recommends that anyone who had a Johnson & Johnson vaccine as their first dose should get an mRNA vaccine as the booster dose. However, people who are aware of the new guidance can still request a Johnson & Johnson vaccine if they want one.

This follows the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)’s statement supporting the unanimous recommendation made at the Dec. 16, 2021 meeting of CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP), as well as similar recommendations in Canada and the United Kingdom.

All three COVID-19 vaccines are still available and effective

People who cannot or prefer not to receive an mRNA vaccine can still get the Johnson & Johnson vaccine through providers in Oregon.

As the Western States workgroup noted in today’s statement, “vaccine providers should continue to make the Janssen (Johnson & Johnson) COVID-19 vaccine available to such individuals after they have been educated about the vaccine’s risks, as the benefits of receiving the vaccine outweigh the known risks compared to not receiving a COVID-19 vaccine.”

“Over the past year since COVID-19 vaccines have available, all three vaccines have been used by people in Oregon, with extensive surveillance on their safety and effectiveness,” said Dr. Paul Cieslak, medical director for Acute and Communicable Disease Prevention at Oregon Health Authority (OHA).

“Although mRNA vaccines are now generally preferred, there may still be instances when the Johnson & Johnson vaccine may be used, such as with persons who experienced an allergic reaction to a prior mRNA vaccine, or with persons who developed myocarditis or pericarditis from a prior mRNA vaccine.”

To learn more:

Read OHA’s news release and OHA’s frequently asked questions about the recommendation.