US lifts pause on J&J COVID-19 vaccinations; NJ confirms restart

Coronavirus

WASHINGTON — U.S. health officials have lifted an 11-day pause on Johnson & Johnson vaccinations following a recommendation by an expert panel.

A CDC panel has urged restarting vaccinations with Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 shot Friday. The CDC and FDA agreed with the expert panel’s findings.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration said on April 13 they were investigating unusual clots that occurred 6 to 13 days after vaccination. The clots occurred in veins that drain blood from the brain and occurred together with low platelets. All six cases were in women between the ages of 18 and 48; there was one death and all remained under investigation.

The reports appear similar to a rare, unusual type of clotting disorder that European authorities say is possibly linked to another COVID-19 vaccine not yet cleared in the U.S., from AstraZeneca.

Panel members said it’s critical that younger women be told about that risk so they can decide if they’d rather choose another vaccine. The CDC and Food and Drug Administration agreed.

European regulators earlier this week made a similar decision, deciding the clot risk was small enough to allow the rollout of J&J’s shot.

More than 6.8 million doses of the J&J vaccine have been given in the U.S., the vast majority with no or mild side effects.

Advisers to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Friday the vaccine’s benefits outweigh that serious but small risk — especially against a virus that’s still infecting tens of thousands of Americans every day.

The state of New Jersey confirmed Friday evening that they’ll be resuming those vaccinations in a statement by Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli.

“The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommended tonight that the pause on the Johnson & Johnson (Janssen) vaccine be lifted and that use of the vaccine can resume,” she said. “The Department tonight will notify vaccination Points of Dispensing that we are providing them with updated FDA fact sheets for patients and providers and that they may resume administration of the one-dose vaccine. This process should demonstrate for the public that the federal vaccine safety monitoring system is strong and should instill confidence in receiving any of the three approved vaccines.”

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