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The CDC and FDA are leaning toward resuming the Johnson & Johnson vaccine after it was halted following reports of blood clots, sources told CBS News. Janet Shamlian has more.
NORAH O'DONNELL: We're going to begin with breaking news on what could be a major development in the race to vaccinate millions of Americans. It now appears that the federal government could decide to resume use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine as early as tomorrow, allowing states to begin administering as many as 10 million doses that have been sitting unused since last week, after the government told states to pause use of the vaccine. Now, CBS News has learned the decision will come after scientists advising the government meet in an emergency session tomorrow. It's likely the FDA will require the vaccine include a warning that it can trigger a very rare blood clotting disorder. But the decision may already be too late to change public opinion, as more and more appointments for shots go unfilled by people concerned about getting vaccinated. In the last week alone, the number of Americans getting vaccinated every day has dropped by more than 10% nationwide. Also tonight, the CDC director says her agency is looking into changing its guidance on masks, especially outdoors and among people who have been vaccinated, as more scientists say the risk of transmitting the virus outside is minimal. CBS's Janet Shamlian is going to lead off our coverage tonight from a vaccination site in Houston, where there's news tonight on that Johnson & Johnson vaccine. Good evening, Janet.
JANET SHAMLIAN: Norah, good evening. Tonight, we are learning more about another case of blood clotting related to the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, this time here in Texas. And it comes just one day before we are expecting a decision by federal officials on resuming the vaccine's use. Tonight, the CDC and the FDA are leaning towards resuming use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine with a warning about blood clots.
DR. PETER HOTEZ: I think too many people may be scared off by taking the vaccine. They shouldn't be, but perception is everything when it comes to vaccines.
JANET SHAMLIAN: A decision expected tomorrow-- more than a week after the vaccine's distribution was paused following reports of rare but dangerous blood clots in eight people under the age of 50. The Washington Post reports age restrictions are unlikely to be added. It comes as the fight against the coronavirus may have reached a crossroads. Long waits for shots are now giving way to empty vaccination sites, as vaccine supply is expected to soon outpace demand. Some mass vaccination sites are now allowing walk-ins and drive-ups for anyone.
DR. PETER HOTEZ: We're about at the point where any American who wants to get a vaccine can get a vaccine. And that's what you need to get to that 80% threshold for when life can resume back to normal.
JANET SHAMLIAN: More than 135 million Americans-- 40% of the population-- have received at least one shot. But vaccinations are lagging in the deep South and parts of the Midwest. Nationwide, an 11% week-over-week drop. Some areas are refusing vaccine shipments. More than 60 of the 105 counties in Kansas turned them down this week because they would go unused.
DR. PETER HOTEZ: If you look at the lowest vaccination rates in the country right now, there are overwhelmingly red states. And I believe a lot of that is due to vaccine hesitancy and refusal among, as all the polls say, conservative and Republican groups.
JANET SHAMLIAN: Amid COVID fatigue, the CDC says it will issue new guidelines soon on outdoor mask use. Experts like virologist Ben Neuman still say, don't give the virus a chance.
BEN NEUMAN: What we're fighting here is basically a scorched-earth battle. We are trying to take away all the food, sustenance, and comfort that this virus needs in order to grow.
JANET SHAMLIAN: Neuman recently identified three new variants in Texas-- one, he says, with the potential to be much more transmissible and resistant to antibodies. Also tonight, a study finds pregnant women who contract COVID have higher rates of complications, including preterm births-- this as the CDC says the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are safe for pregnant women, according to an early study.
NORAH O'DONNELL: And Janet joins us now. And I understand the State Department has now issued a "do not travel" warning for more than 100 countries. What do we know about that?
JANET SHAMLIAN: Norah, that's up from roughly 30 countries just a week ago. Now, more than 80% of the world's countries, and it includes India, which today set a new global one-day record for cases. The healthcare system there is overwhelmed. They're experiencing a shortage of both hospital beds and oxygen. Norah.
NORAH O'DONNELL: Global travel's still risky. All right, Janet Shamlian. Thank you.