(CBS / AP) — U.S. health officials lifted an 11-day pause on COVID-19 vaccinations using Johnson & Johnson’s single-dose shot on Friday, after scientific advisers decided its benefits outweigh a rare risk of blood clot.

The government uncovered 15 vaccine recipients who developed a highly unusual kind of blood clot, out of nearly 8 million people given the J&J shot. All were women, most under age 50. Three died, and seven remain hospitalized.

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But ultimately Friday, the Food and Drug Administration and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention decided that J&J’s one-and-done vaccine is critical to fight the pandemic — and that the small clot risk could be handled with warnings to help younger women decide if they should use that shot or an alternative.

“Above all else, health and safety are at the forefront of our decisions,” CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said in a statement. “Our vaccine safety systems are working. We identified exceptionally rare events – out of millions of doses” of the J&J shot and will continue to monitor them.

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The panel voted 10-4 to lift an 11-day pause in use of the J&J shot while adding warnings that women and health workers would see in leaflets at vaccination clinics. The group debated but ultimately steered clear of outright age restrictions.

Following last week’s pause, health departments across the Bay Area shelved doses of the Johnson & Johnson shot, but also noted they had considerably fewer doses compared to the other two authorized vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna. Santa Clara County vaccinated about 60,000 people with Johnson & Johnson before shelving their roughly 13,000 doses. Alameda County shelved nearly 4,000 and Marin County had 1,200. San Francisco, San Mateo and Napa counties each had 500 doses or fewer.

 

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