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Adverse reactions to the Johnson & Johnson vaccine are shutting down vaccination sites in the U.S. (Updated)

johnson & johnson vaccine problems
Photo via NIH/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)
  • This story is regularly updated for relevance. Last updated: May 13, 2021

Updated: On April 13, the U.S. stopped giving the Johnson & Johnson vaccine after six people developed blood clots, according to the New York Times. One of the patients died, and another has been hospitalized because of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine that has seen these kinds of rare problems throughout the world.

More than 7 million Johnson & Johnson vaccine doses have been given in the U.S.

“We are recommending a pause in the use of this vaccine out of an abundance of caution,” Dr. Peter Marks, a Food and Drug Administration official, and Dr. Anne Schuchat, principal deputy director of the C.D.C., said in a joint statement. “Right now, these adverse events appear to be extremely rare.”

But on April 23, the U.S. lifted the temporary ban and allowed people to get the vaccine once again, even though there were still new reports of people getting the blood clots. For what it’s worth, CNN data showed that a person is 40 times more likely to die from COVID than they would be to die from blood clots caused by the vaccine

The original story follows below.

A COVID-19 vaccination site in the Denver metro area was shut down April 7 after 11 people experienced adverse reactions to the Johnson & Johnson vaccine being administered there. The next day, even more problems with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine were discovered when more people suffered bad reactions in North Carolina.

The Denver Post reported that health officials shut down the COVID-19 mass-vaccination site at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park in Commerce City, home to Major League Soccer’s Colorado Rapids, on April 7. The decision was made after 11 people suffered adverse reactions to the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. Two of those 11 had significant enough reactions to merit hospital observation. 

The next day, several patients in North Carolina suffered reactions almost immediately after receiving the vaccine, and the site had to stop giving out doses.

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment’s statement on the incident emphasized that the side effects experienced by those patients, most notably nausea and dizziness, were “consistent with what can be expected.” The decision to close the site was, as the article continued, “made out of an abundance of caution.” 

“The state has no reason to believe that people who were vaccinated today at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park should be concerned,” the statement clarified. 

“We got there about 2:30, early, and then about five cars away from being next to get the shot and they stopped it,” Paul Doucett, who was scheduled to receive the vaccine at the site, told CBS Denver. “There were two ambulances there. One was pulling in as we were pulling in and there was one already set up there. At least an hour and a half passed before they said, ‘We’re just not comfortable with the adverse reactions, so we’ve got to reschedule you guys.’”

“We’re committed to providing safe community clinics, and we are so grateful that the clinic today properly observed and helped patients with immediate side effects,” said Scott Bookman, COVID-19 Incident Commander, in the TV station’s account. “We know it can be alarming to hear about people getting transported to the hospital, and we want to reassure Coloradans that the CDC and public health are closely monitoring all the authorized vaccines continually. From what we know, today’s side effects were consistent with what can be expected.” 

“Getting a vaccine is far safer than getting severely sick with COVID-19,” he added. “It’s why I got the vaccine, and why I’ve wanted my family to get it. Based on everything we know, it remains true that the best vaccine to get is the one you can get the soonest.”

The 640 people turned away April 7 will now get vaccinations on April 11, according to Kevin Massey, spokesperson for Centura Health, which runs the vaccination site at the stadium. Rather than getting the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, those people will now receive the first of two Pfizer shots, the vaccine previously scheduled for use on that day. 

Centura Health will continue the standard policy of having those vaccinated wait 15 minutes following a vaccine dose to monitor for adverse reactions. But one official said the Johnson & Johnson vaccine problems from those two sites shouldn’t be a cause for concern.

“At this point we have no reason to believe there’s anything wrong with the vaccine itself,” Dr. Shauna Gulley, a Centura Health chief clinical officer, said, via CBS News. “This is a temporary pause of one brand of vaccine so that we can investigate further.” 

Read more on the coronavirus vaccines:

Sources: Denver Post, CBS Denver, CBS News


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