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Northeast Ohio Universities 'Pause' Johnson & Johnson Vaccine Use

Cleveland State University, Case Western Reserve University, Kent State University and the University of Akron were all administering the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, in accordance with Gov. Mike DeWine’s push to get students vaccinated by summer break. [Evgenia Parajanian / Shutterstock]
A hand holds a CDC vaccination card

Universities across Northeast Ohio have paused their single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine administration, following guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, the Food and Drug Administration and the state of Ohio.  

Cleveland State University, Case Western Reserve University, Kent State University and the University of Akron were all giving out the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, as part of Gov. Mike DeWine’s push to get every college student in Ohio vaccinated before they leave campus at the end of the school year.

In his Tuesday coronavirus briefing, DeWine said 63 public and private colleges and universities around the state received Johnson & Johnson doses and most finished vaccinating students over the past week. Those that didn’t are now paused, he said, or working with the state to switch to Pfizer or Moderna shots.

“The good news is we achieved most of what we wanted to achieve already in regard to our college students,” DeWine said. “It’s not exactly what we wanted but we’ve accomplished a lot… We’ll see what happens in the next few days”

Approximately 400 Cleveland State University students have received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine at CSU’s student-only vaccination center, according to university officials, but operations at that center has been “temporarily paused.”

Prior to the CDC and FDA’s recommendation, Case Western Reserve University officials administered more than 3,600 vaccine doses to “members of the campus, city and area communities from April 7 to 11,” according to a university official.

"In accordance with state and federal guidance, Case Western Reserve is pausing administration of Johnson & Johnson vaccines,” the school announced in a Tuesday statement.

Of the 4,000 vaccines provided by the state, Kent State University had administered just under 1,200 Johnson & Johnson doses to students before the pause, according to university officials.

In a statement to students Tuesday, Kent State announced the immediate postponement of all vaccine clinics, “until further notice.” The university urged anyone with symptoms, who had received the Johnson and Johnson vaccine, to contact the DeWees Health Center or their local healthcare provider.

“Those who experienced the blood clot disorder developed symptoms within six to 13 days after receiving the vaccine. Symptoms included severe headache or severe headache accompanied by blurred vision, fainting, loss of consciousness, loss of control over movement in a part of the body or seizures,” the statement read. “The FDA and CDC said that these cases are extremely rare but recommended a pause in the use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine out of an abundance of caution.”

Kent State officials also advised anyone with an appointment for a vaccination at one of the school’s clinics to schedule an appointment for the Moderna or Pfizer vaccine at a different clinic.

By Tuesday, the University of Akron had administered 1,200 doses to students, and were “on pace to vaccinate 300 more this week,” according to university officials.

But Akron paused all on-campus COVID-19 vaccinations Tuesday and told students who had already scheduled appointments for April 14 or 15 to await emails with additional information.

Oberlin College concluded its vaccine administration prior to the federal agency recommendations, administering nearly 600 doses of Johnson & Johnson vaccine to students, faculty and staff during a four-day clinic that ran from Friday to Monday.

“No one in that group has reported serious, extended side effects from the shots, and incidence rates indicate that it would be unusual for someone vaccinated at the clinic to develop blood clots or other serious complications,” Oberlin said in a message sent to the campus community.

Students and staff were advised to seek out medical help if they experienced symptoms potentially related to the vaccine.

“Anyone who develops symptoms should contact the Mercy-Allen emergency department at 200 W. Lorain St., at 440-775-1211.  Please notify Campus Safety if symptoms are severe at 440-775-8444,” the student alert read.

Jenny Hamel is the host of the “Sound of Ideas.”