Quick Take:

The CDC and FDA lifted their pause on Johnson & Johnson vaccinations Friday, and state and county officials followed suit Sunday morning.

Health providers locally and across California can again roll out Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccines.

Following a CDC recommendation on Friday, the California Department of Public Health on Sunday morning concurred that the risk of serious blood clots caused by the vaccine is minimal.

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After a thorough review of very rare adverse events following the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, the Western States Scientific Safety Review Workgroup supports the recommendation of the FDA and CDC to lift the pause on the vaccine,” said Dr. Erica Pan, the state epidemiologist. “Clinics in California may begin administering the Johnson & Johnson vaccine immediately as long as they provide appropriate educational materials to inform patients of the vaccine’s low risk of associated health effects and other available vaccine options.

“More than half of Californians 16 and older have received one of the three vaccines available, and the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine is also an important tool in our fight to stop the spread of COVID-19.”

Santa Cruz County and other Bay Area health departments, which have the final say on vaccine distribution within their jurisdictions, quickly concurred with the state’s recommendation. “The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is safe,” they said in a joint statement. “Bay Area health providers should resume its administration.”

Use of the J&J vaccine had been on pause since April 12.

The pause was prompted by six cases of a rare and perplexing clotting disorder seen among recipients of the single-shot vaccine. All six of those cases involved women between the ages of 18 and 48.

The blood clots were unusual because they were accompanies by a dangerously low level of platelets, the building blocks of blood clots.

The initial six cases rose to 15 when safety experts went back and reviewed records of adverse reactions to the vaccine. All of those cases were in women, and all but one of was under 50.

Even so, the panel said the risk was still tiny — effectively 1.9 cases per million people in the general population, or 7 cases per million women under 50.

Contributing: Los Angeles Times

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