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US health panel urges restarting J&J COVID-19 vaccinations

FILE - In this March 3, 2021, file photo, U.S. Army medic Kristen Rogers, of Waxhaw, N.C., holds a vial of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine in North Miami, Fla. With the U.S. pause of the vaccine, authorities are weighing whether to resume the shots the way European regulators decided to -- with warnings of a “very rare” risk. New guidance is expected late Friday, April 23, after a government advisory panel deliberates a link between the shot and a handful of vaccine recipients who developed highly unusual blood clots. (AP Photo/Marta Lavandier, File)

A U.S. health panel says it’s time to resume use of Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine, despite a very rare risk of blood clots.

Out of nearly 8 million people vaccinated before the U.S. suspended J&J’s shot, health officials uncovered 15 cases of a highly unusual kind of blood clot, three of them fatal. All were women, most younger than 50.

But advisers to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Friday the vaccine’s benefits outweigh that serious but small risk -- especially against a virus that’s still infecting tens of thousands of Americans every day.

The government will rapidly weigh that recommendation in deciding next steps.