SALT LAKE CITY — After U.S. health officials lifted the pause on Johnson & Johnson's COVID-19 vaccine Friday, the Utah Department of Health (UDOH) has now also lifted the statewide pause.
"Effective immediately, COVID-19 vaccine providers in Utah may resume administering the Johnson & Johnson vaccine to anyone 18 years of age or older," the announcement from UDOH read.
The health department also emphasized the low risk of blood clots caused by the vaccine, the reason for the pause. Out of the more than 8 million people who received the Johnson & Johnson dose, 15 people developed blood clots, and three died. All 15 were females.
Johnson & Johnson, along with "regulators," will add a warning to the product label about the potential of the rare blood-clotting condition.
UDOH also advised that women younger than 50 may have increased risks, so they may want to speak with their health care provider before receiving it or choose the Pfizer or Moderna instead.
The CDC is also expected to release further guidance on the vaccine's administration on Tuesday.
“For many Utahns, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is the best vaccine,” Gov. Spencer Cox said Friday in the press release. “A single dose gives us the best chance of vaccinating people who are hard to reach by geography, those who are hard to reach because of personal schedules, those who might be less likely to return for a second shot, and even those who don’t like needles. We are relieved that these doses will rejoin our arsenal in the fight against COVID-19.”
UDOH said providers can now use doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccines they have on hand, and more doses will again be shipped out next week.
More than 86,000 doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine were administered in Utah before the pause, and UDOH says there are still about 53,000 unused doses on the shelves of vaccine providers in the state.
“Utah residents should be confident in the process that led to the pause, and also the process that led to the lifting of the pause,” said Dr. Michelle Hofmann, the deputy director of the UDOH. “This situation is evidence that the system that ensures vaccine safety in our country works. A potential issue was identified, investigated, and addressed in a manner that allows for the Johnson & Johnson vaccine to again be safely administered in our state.”