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Johnson & Johnson COVID Vaccine Back In Use Despite 'Very Low' Blood Clot Risk

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- Minnesotans can resume receiving Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccines.

Federal officials lifted a 10-day pause on the single-dose vaccine after a small number of people reported blood clots after receiving their dose.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said they found 15 cases of blood clots and low platelets in 15 patients out of eight million Johnson & Johnson shots given.

Dr. Abe Jacob, M Health Fairview's chief quality officer, said your risk of getting in a car accident driving to work is higher. However, your risk is slightly higher if you're a younger woman.

"We're talking about very low risks overall," Jacob said.

All 15 of the cases were in women between the ages of 18 and 49. While the risk is rare, Dr. Jacob says it's a personal decision.

"My 18-year-old actually got the J & J vaccine a week before the pause and, you know, she came up to me and said, 'Should I be nervous?' And I said, 'No, you shouldn't be nervous.'"

Woman Getting COVID-19 Vaccine
(credit: CBS)

Experts say the risks from COVID, including blood clots, are also higher. The virus has killed more than half a million people in the U.S.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, President Joe Biden's chief medical advisor, stood by the pause amid questions Sunday if it did more harm than good, saying the U.S. needs to be the gold standard for safety. He appeared on ABC's "This Week."

"We're out there trying to combat a degree of vaccine hesitancy that still is out there," Fauci said. "We can now say, you know, we take this very seriously, we've looked at it, now let's get back and get people vaccinated."

A spokesperson for MDH told WCCO that the state had sent out 9,600 doses of Johnson & Johnson vaccine to providers just before the pause went into effect. Those can begin going into arms this week, but the state will not be getting any new doses of that vaccine this week. State health officials anticipate that will change as federal supply amps up again.

WCCO did learn of some clinics in Wisconsin resuming their Johnson & Johnson shots as well.

The FDA will include a safety warning that can be handed out at vaccine sites. Health officials say people who experience symptoms such as headaches, abdominal pain, leg pain or shortness of breath within three weeks of receiving the Johnson & Johnson vaccine should call their doctor.

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