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Heritage Hall is expected to serve as a COVID-19 vaccine administration site in the future in Athens, Ohio.

OU pauses use of Johnson & Johnson vaccine due to side effects, switches to Pfizer

Ohio University has temporarily discontinued use of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine amid fears of potentially deadly side effects.

In a tweet on Tuesday, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine advised every vaccine provider in the state of Ohio to temporarily pause using the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. The warning comes after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration released a joint statement outlining a “rare and severe” blood clotting side effect found in six individuals who received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. 

According to the statement, all of the affected individuals are women between the ages of 18 and 48 and the blood clots occurred six to 13 days after vaccination. 

OU, which has recently started administering the Johnson & Johnson vaccine to students on campus, published a news release Tuesday explaining the university’s next steps. 

Each student who was scheduled to receive a Johnson & Johnson vaccine or plans to schedule a vaccination appointment in the future will now receive a two-dose Pfizer vaccine, according to the release. University officials stressed the importance for students to be in Athens 21 days after they receive the first Pfizer dose, which is when the second dose is typically given. 

Vaccination clinics featuring the Pfizer vaccine will be open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on April 14, April 16, April 19 and April 23 at Heritage Hall, 191 W. Union St. Those who receive the vaccine on April 14 and April 16 will receive the second dose on May 5 and May 7, respectively, and those who are vaccinated on April 19 and April 23 will receive the second dose on May 10 and May 14, respectively.

Jack Pepper, administrator at the Athens City-County Health Department, said the department’s initial allocation of the Pfizer vaccine to OU was 2,300 doses. He also said the problems with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine will not set back the health department’s and OU’s vaccination efforts, it will only change the type of vaccine being offered.

Those who wish to sign up for a vaccine can do so on the Ohio Department of Health’s website

Students who have already received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine should be observant and mindful of any symptoms that may arise, according to the release. 

“Individuals who received the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine and develop symptoms such as severe headache, abdominal pain, leg pain, shortness of breath, blurry vision, or nausea should contact their primary care physician and let them know that you received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine so they are aware and can order appropriate tests,” the release reads. “Muscle aches, fever, arm soreness and other symptoms are common after any COVID-19 vaccine and are not a cause for concern.”

Despite that message, OU officials reassured those who have received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine that only six individuals out of six million people have been affected by the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. Additionally, the release mentions that neither the Pfizer or the Moderna vaccines have shown extreme side effects. 

“There are no reports of these rare side effects with the other COVID-19 vaccines available in the U.S. (Pfizer and Moderna). The CDC and the ACCHD advise that those who have appointments to receive a Pfizer or Moderna vaccine keep those appointments,” OU said in the release. “We want to reaffirm that our confidence in the importance and efficacy of the other two available vaccines is not diminished by today’s news. We remain hopeful that if our campus community continues to participate in vaccination programs featuring Pfizer and Moderna that we can return to a much more normal campus in the fall.”


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