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U.S. health official push for more vaccinations after J&J pause ends

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U.S. health official push for more vaccinations after J&J pause ends
Dr. Anthony Fauci testifies before a hearing of the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis at the U.S. Capitol in Washington DC, on April 15. File Pool photo by Susan Walsh/UPI | License Photo

April 25 (UPI) -- U.S. health officials on Sunday pushed for Americans to continue to get vaccinated as inoculations have slowed amid a 10-day pause on the use of Johnson & Johnson's COVID-19 vaccine.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told ABC News' This Week that he hopes the pause will inspire confidence in Americans that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Food and Drug Administration will continue to take the necessary steps that the COVID-19 vaccines are safe.

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"I think, in the long run, what we're going to see, and we'll probably see it soon, is that people will realize that we take safety very seriously. We're out there trying to combat the degree of vaccine hesitancy that still is out there. And one of the reasons why people have hesitancy is concern about the safety of the vaccine," he said.

The United States has administered 228,661,408 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, with 28.5% of the population fully vaccinated and 53.6% of people above the age of 18 having received at least one dose, according to the CDC.

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However, the vaccination rate stopped increasing on April 13, when health officials announced the pause on the Johnson & Johnson vaccine as researchers examined rare instances of blood clotting.

The CDC and FDA lifted the pause on Friday as experts discovered 15 cases of blood clotting, including three deaths, linked to the virus, but the agencies determined the benefits outweigh the risks. So far 6.8 million of the single-dose regimen has been administered and another 9 million are ready to be used.

Dr. Francis Collins, director of the National Institute of Health, compared the 1 in 500,000 risk of getting a blood clot from the vaccine to the much greater odds of experiencing intestinal bleeding after taking aspirin in an appearance on NBC News' Meet the Press.

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"We're talking about something here that's 1,000 times less likely to happen," he said of blood clots following the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. "But we Americans, we're not that good at this kind of risk calculation."

Fauci also stressed that it was important for a high percentage of Americans to be vaccinated to end the pandemic.

"The more people you get vaccinated, the more people you protect," Fauci said. "When you get a critical number of people vaccinated, you really have a blanket of protection over the entire community."

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While among the world's leaders in vaccinations, the United States also leads the world in infections and fatalities with 32,063,938 COVID-19 cases and 572,109 deaths related to the virus since the start of the pandemic, according to data gathered by Johns Hopkins University. The nation reported 53,363 new infections and 724 deaths from Saturday.

California, which leads the United States in cases and deaths, reported 1,739 new cases and 53 deaths on Sunday, bringing its totals to 3,629,624 cases and 60,188 fatalities. The state has administered 28,200,566 vaccine doses and 11,524,805 people are fully vaccinated.

Texas ranks second with 2,456,905 cases since the start of the pandemic along with the nation's third-highest death toll at 48,966, reporting 1,128 new cases and 20 fatalities on Sunday. To date, Texas has administered 17,257,359 vaccine doses and 7,230,783 people have been fully vaccinated.

Third-ranked Florida added 4,671 new COVID-19 cases and 36 resident deaths Sunday, bringing its totals to 2,208,584 infections and 34,848 fatalities. The state has administered 13,739,049 vaccine doses and 5,226,224 people have been fully vaccinated.

New York reported 4,087 new COVID-19 cases Sunday to bring its total to 2,015,664, fourth-highest in the nation, and 50 new fatalities raising its death toll to 51,951, second in the nation. A total of 14,435,026 vaccine doses have been administered in New York and 6,201,230 people have been fully vaccinated.

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Fifth-ranked Illinois reported 2,035 new COVID-19 cases and 24 deaths on Sunday, bringing its totals to 1,321,033 infections and 21,826 fatalities. Illinois has administered 8,810,463 vaccine doses and 3,769,787 people have been fully vaccinated.

A year in pandemic: How COVID-19 changed the world

National Institutes of Health official Dr. Anthony Fauci (C) speaks about the coronavirus during a press briefing at the White House in Washington, D.C. Health and Human Services Secretary Alexander Azar (L) announced that the United States is declaring the virus a public health emergency and issued a federal quarantine order of 14 days for 195 Americans. Photo by Leigh Vogel/UPI | License Photo

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