Health Care

U.S. Lifts Pause, Will Restart J&J Vaccinations with Warning

Aditi Agarwal administers a coronavirus vaccine at a mass vaccination site at Lumen Field Event Center in Seattle, Wash., March 13, 2021. (Lindsey Wasson/Reuters)

The United States will resume Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccinations after health officials lifted an 11-day pause on the shots at the recommendation of a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advisory panel on Friday.

The pause in inoculations was triggered by concerns over six cases of a rare blood clot that occurred out of more than 7 million people who had received the vaccine in the U.S.

The panel voted 10 to 4 to recommend restarting the vaccinations, saying the benefits of the shot outweigh the rare risk of blood clots. However, the group suggested that the vaccine include a warning about the increased risk of the very rare but severe blood clots.

“Today’s presentations and discussions have convinced me that lifting the pause on J&J’s vaccine is in the best public health interest of the U.S. population,” said Dr. Henry Bernstein, a professor of pediatrics at the Zucker School of Medicine at Hofstra/Northwell in New York.

After the pause was put in place on April 13, an additional nine confirmed cases of the rare stroke were reported. A small number of other potential cases are under review.

Of the confirmed cases, three patients died, while seven others remain hospitalized.

All of the cases of the clotting, called “thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome,” occurred in women, most of whom were between the ages of 18 and 49. No medical conditions or medications linked the cases, according to NBC News.

Dr. Joanne Waldstreicher, chief medical officer for Johnson & Johnson, shared language from a potential warning label that instructs those who receive the shot “to seek immediate medical attention if they develop shortness of breath, chest pain, leg swelling, persistent abdominal pain,” as well as neurological symptoms, such as blurred vision or severe and ongoing headaches.

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