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States resume administering J&J vaccine after pause

The Hill logo The Hill 4/24/2021 Lexi Lonas
a hand holding a blue bed: States resume administering J&J vaccine after pause © Getty Images States resume administering J&J vaccine after pause

Multiple states said they will resume administering the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine after federal health authorities agreed on Friday that the benefits outweigh the risks.

Virginia, Illinois, Massachusetts, Nevada and New York all announced that they will be immediately restarting administration of the J&J vaccine as doses sit on the shelves after the 10-day pause.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said Friday that the J&J vaccine could be administered again after accepting the recommendation from a CDC panel. The agencies had put a pause on the vaccine April 13.

Federal regulators said Friday they were aware of 15 cases of rare blood clots happening in younger women, including three women who died and seven still in the hospital. However, those cases are out of nearly 8 million shots administered, and the agencies said the benefits of the vaccine outweigh its risks.

"This is not a decision the agencies reached lightly. Medical and scientific teams of both the FDA and CDC reviewed several sources of information and data related to the Janssen COVID-19 vaccine to reach today's assessment," acting FDA Commissioner Janet Woodcock said.

CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said "the American public should feel reassured about the safety systems and protocols that we have in place around the COVID-19 vaccines."

Many states are working to start administering the vaccine again as 9.5 million doses are ready for use across the country.

Governors and state health departments across the country announced Friday and Saturday that they would move to immediately resume J&J vaccinations.

"This extra scrutiny should instill confidence in the system that is in place to guarantee COVID-19 vaccine safety," Virginia's vaccine coordinator, Danny Avula, said in a statement. "As with any vaccine, we encourage individuals to educate themselves on any potential side effects and to weigh that against the possibility of hospitalization or death from COVID-19."

The J&J vaccine is one of three that have emergency authorization from the FDA, along with one from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna.

Updated: 1:23 p.m.

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