Virginia is instructing providers across the state to immediately resume their use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine after federal agencies lifted the recommended pause on Friday night.
The decision came shortly after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration found the benefits of the one-shot vaccine outweigh its risks.
On April 13, the health agencies announced an investigation into six cases of an extremely rare blood clot disorder in recipients. One woman who died was a 45-year-old Virginia resident who received the J&J vaccine on March 6. No link has been found and CDC data shows about 7 million people in the U.S. have received a dose. Prior to the pause, Virginia had administered 184,000 J&J shots.
The chances of getting blood clots while infected with COVID-19 is roughly 20% - significantly higher than the risk posed by the vaccine.
"This extra scrutiny should instill confidence in the system that is in place to guarantee COVID-19 vaccine safety," Dr. Danny Avula, the state's vaccine coordinator, said in a statement Friday. "As with any vaccine, we encourage individuals to educate themselves on any potential side effects and to weigh that against the possibility of hospitalization or death from COVID-19."
Avula received his own J&J vaccine April 1.
In Virginia and nationwide, vaccines are free regardless of insurance or immigration status. Other options for registering for a shot include calling (877) 829-4682 — a state service with assistance available in more than 100 languages including American Sign Language — and visiting vaccinate.virginia.gov.