On May 18, a blog post claimed that the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) “quietly recalled” the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine in the United States, and ordered all of the remaining stock to be destroyed.
The post alleges the CDC did not state why they were pulling the vaccine. It also claims that “the millions of people throughout the world who took this vaccine, by choice or by force, deserve to know the reason it has been recalled.”
Since then, several people on social media have shared the claim, and multiple VERIFY viewers have asked our team if it’s true.
Did the CDC recall the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine?
No, the CDC did not recall the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine.
WHAT WE FOUND
The CDC did not issue a recall for the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine like online claims suggest. Instead, all remaining doses of the single-dose vaccine in the U.S. expired in early May.
On May 10, the CDC issued a notice on its website stating that the Johnson & Johnson (Janssen) COVID-19 vaccine is no longer available in the U.S. The notice explains that all remaining doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine in the federal government stockpile expired on May 7, 2023, and should be disposed of in accordance with local, state and federal regulations.
In February 2021, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued an emergency use authorization (EUA) for the Johnson & Johnson vaccine to prevent COVID-19 in individuals 18 years of age and older.
A few months after the EUA was issued, the FDA and the CDC recommended a pause in the use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine out of an abundance of caution. In a joint statement published on April 13, 2021, the FDA and CDC said it was reviewing data after six cases of a rare and severe type of blood clot known as cerebral venous sinus thrombosis (CVST) were reported in individuals who received the single-dose vaccine. The federal public health agencies lifted the pause later that month.
However, by May 2022, the FDA limited the use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine to individuals aged 18 and older who did not have access to Pfizer and Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccines, or who chose to receive the Johnson & Johnson vaccine because they would otherwise not receive a COVID-19 vaccine.
The FDA said it had determined that the risk of developing thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome (TTS) after receiving the vaccine warranted limiting its use. At the time, the agency had identified 60 confirmed cases of TTS, including nine fatal cases, following an analysis of data reported to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS).
While it was available, 19,007,537 doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine were administered, and more than 31,500,000 doses of the single-shot vaccine were delivered to states, according to CDC data. This means that over 12,500,000 Johnson & Johnson vaccine doses went unused.
After the CDC’s notice was issued, Johnson & Johnson told Spectrum News that the company is “working closely with U.S. regulators to determine the best path forward in the U.S.”
“Our focus remains on ensuring our vaccine is available to people most in need globally,” Johnson & Johnson said in a statement.
The CDC recommends that people aged 18 and older who received a Johnson & Johnson vaccine dose while it was available should get one bivalent booster dose of either the Moderna or Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines at least two months after receiving their previous dose.
VERIFY reached out to Johnson & Johnson for comment but did not hear back by the time of publication.