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Universities Seek Alternative Vaccines Amid Johnson & Johnson Pause

April 14, 2021

Universities in different states said yesterday they would suspend giving the one-dose Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine as federal officials evaluated reports of rare blood-clotting cases.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued a joint statement yesterday recommending a pause in use of the one-shot vaccine “out of an abundance of caution.” Officials are reviewing six reported cases of a rare severe blood clot in people receiving the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. More than 6.8 million doses of the vaccine have been administered in the U.S.

The move prompted changes at the University of Akron, which had been administering the Johnson & Johnson vaccine and promised to provide additional information to students scheduled to be vaccinated in coming days. Also in Ohio, Kent State University officials said anyone who had been scheduled to receive the Johnson & Johnson vaccine at one of its clinics should schedule an appointment for other vaccines from Moderna or Pfizer, WOIO reported. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine had been shipped to colleges and universities in Ohio in an attempt to vaccinate students before summer break.

Universities announcing changes in other states included Syracuse University and the State University of New York system, The Post-Standard reported. Syracuse University said it will receive a supply of the Pfizer vaccine from its home county so that it can continue providing students, faculty members and staff members with vaccinations. SUNY indicated it is working with state officials to procure alternative vaccines.

Elsewhere, Virginia Commonwealth University and VCU Health issued a statement as they suspended use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, saying they would closely monitor patients who’d received the vaccine. The university and VCU Health are working with Virginia health officials to create a plan for future vaccinations.

“We are using our Moderna and Pfizer vaccine supply to honor any vaccination appointments today,” the statement said. “We continue to urge anyone who has not yet been vaccinated to do so as soon as possible with Moderna and Pfizer until there is more clarity about the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.”

A CDC advisory committee is scheduled to meet today to review the six reported clotting cases. Pausing distribution of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is important so that health-care providers know about any clotting potential and the fact that the rare clots in question require unique treatment, according to officials.

All six clotting cases were reported in women between the ages of 18 and 48. Symptoms occurred between six and 13 days after vaccination. Officials urge anyone who was given the Johnson & Johnson vaccine who develops a severe headache, abdominal pain, leg pain or shortness of breath within three weeks to contact a health-care provider.

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