For Immediate Release – December 16, 2021
Media Contact
Melissa Gordon, Vaccinate Virginia

Statement from Virginia State Vaccination Liaison Dr. Danny Avula on CDC Preferential Recommendation of mRNA COVID-19 Vaccines over Johnson & Johnson Vaccine

(RICHMOND, Va.) — On December 16, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced a preferential recommendation of mRNA vaccines over the Johnson & Johnson (J&J)/Janssen COVID-19 vaccine for people aged 18 years and older. The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) is adopting this recommendation immediately.

On April 13, 2021, the CDC paused administration of the single-dose J&J vaccine for 10 days while federal scientists studied the occurrence of thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome (TTS), a rare blood clotting issue, among the then 7 million people who had received the vaccine. At that time, there were cases of six women who experienced the condition, including one death. Most reports of this serious condition, which involves blood clots with low platelets, occurred in adult women younger than 50 years old. After further study, the pause was lifted when the safety review determined that the vaccine’s benefits outweighed the risks.

Since then, public health officials have been closely monitoring the situation. More recent data show that the rate of TTS in people who received the J&J vaccine is higher than previous estimates in both women and men and in a wider age range, although the problem is still rare. According to the CDC, there have been 54 cases of this clotting condition, between March 2 and August 31, 2021. As of December 9, there have been nine deaths. In total, more than 17 million J&J doses have been administered.

The following is a statement from Virginia’s State Vaccination Liaison Dr. Danny Avula, MD, MPH:

“Bottom line, this is simply about following the science. Virginia will be following the CDC’s recommendations, as we have throughout the course of the pandemic. This is all about vaccine safety – as it has been from the beginning. In April, the science indicated we should study this rare blood-clotting condition, and we followed the science then in recommending the 10-day pause. Today, further research indicates that this rare blood-clotting condition, though infrequent, warrants limiting administration of the vaccine. That’s what science is all about: We’ve collected and studied the data and are acting accordingly, all with the goal of patient safety foremost in our minds.”


Those who are unvaccinated remain at the highest risk of severe illness and hospitalization due to COVID-19. This population remains VDH’s top priority. Everyone 5 years or older is eligible to be vaccinated. To find free vaccines at a Community Vaccination Center or another location near you, visit or call 877-VAX-IN-VA (877-829-4682, TTY users call 7-1-1). Assistance is available in English, Spanish, and more than 100 other languages. At Community Vaccination Centers, walk-ins are welcome, but appointments are strongly encouraged to ensure you get the vaccine you want and to avoid extended wait times.