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OU pauses Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine distribution at direction of CDC, FDA

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Dale Bratzler

OU Chief COVID Officer Dr. Dale Bratzler speaks to members of the media before an OU COVID-19 vaccination clinic March 26.

OU Health Services has canceled Johnson & Johnson vaccination appointments after six patients in the U.S. developed a rare blood-clotting disorder after receiving the vaccine.

According to an OU Health Services tweet, the office has opened up Moderna appointments for this week, and those who had Johnson & Johnson appointments previously scheduled have been given scheduling priority. 

Community members can sign up for an appointment at the OU Health Services website

The Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced a federal pause of Johnson & Johnson vaccine distribution in a statement on Twitter. They are reviewing data involving six reported female cases of a “rare (and) severed type of blood clot” within about two weeks of getting the vaccine. 

OU Director of Media Relations Kesha Keith sent the following university statement in an email to The Daily: 

In response to the FDA’s recommendation to pause administration of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine, OU Health Services at Goddard Health Center has ceased its use of the vaccine until further notice. Individuals may still receive the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines at Goddard as supply allows. The rare events reported so far related to the administration of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine have occurred in less than 1 in 1,000,000 doses. The six instances reported in the U.S. appear to be limited to women age 18-48 and all occurred within two weeks of affected individuals receiving the shot. Individuals who received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine at the OU Norman campus clinic on March 26 are now past that two-week window. Those who have received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine and remain concerned are encouraged to consult their health care provider. The university will continue to closely monitor the Johnson & Johnson findings.

OU Chief COVID Officer Dr. Dale Bratzler said in an interview with The Daily “there is no monitoring to do” among those who received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine during the March 26 large-scale vaccine clinic since they are already past three weeks of receiving it, but monitoring of these consequences is requested at a federal level.

Bratzler said it would be very strange but not impossible for one of the 3,000 people who received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine at OU to experience complications. He said finding the risk factor causing these events will be “very difficult” to do, and it is the reason the FDA and CDC paused the vaccine’s use. 

“All of the events happened within two weeks of the shot and I think we're already more than two weeks out from most of the people who received the Johnson and Johnson vaccine at least on our campus,” Bratzler said. “The incidence was also quite rare. There have been six cases out of 6.8 million doses, so the incidence of this event is less than one in a million doses. It's not a common complication.”

This article was updated at 11:56 a.m. Tuesday, April 13, to include that Moderna appointments for this week have been opened up. 

Marien López-Medina is an international student and United World Colleges alumna from Nicaragua. She is majoring in journalism and nonprofit organizational studies and works as summer news managing editor and fall assistant news editor.

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