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State Directs Providers To Resume Johnson & Johnson Vaccinations

Angelo Esslinger from Pixabay CC0: http://bit.ly/2J9vjVE

Officials with the Texas Department of State Health Services notified vaccine providers across the state to resume use of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine on Saturday.

The announcement followed a safety review and a recommendation from an advisory committee with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that the vaccine's benefits outweighed its risks.

The vaccine was paused on April 13 after the vaccine safety system identified six rare but serious cases of blood clots in combination with low blood platelet counts. Most were in women between the ages of 18 and 49 who experienced the first symptoms one to two weeks after vaccination.

While the clotting cases are extremely rare, those who receive the vaccine were advised to watch for warning symptoms, including shortness of breath, chest and leg pain, and tiny blood spots under the skin beyond the injection site.

"The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is an important tool in our fight against COVID-19, and the scientific review over the last 11 days has affirmed its safety and effectiveness,” said Dr. John Hellerstedt, DSHS commissioner.

“We know some Texans prefer the simplicity of a single-dose vaccine, and the ease of storing and handling this vaccine gives providers more flexibility. Resuming the use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine will prevent hospitalizations and save lives in Texas,” he said.

The CDC estimated that using the vaccine in the United States will prevent more than 2,200 intensive care admissions and 1,400 deaths over the next six months.

Local health officials said half of the San Antonio area's 2 million residents had received at least one COVID-19 vaccination from Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer, or Moderna, and well over a third were fully vaccinated from one of those vaccines.

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Brian Kirkpatrick can be reached at brian@tpr.org and on Twitter at @TPRBrian