Ohio providers pause J&J vaccines as US reviews clot cases

By Kantele Franko - Associated Press

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Ohio providers including the nation’s largest traditional supermarket chain and some college campuses suspended using the Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccine Tuesday while federal officials investigate reports of potentially dangerous blood clots.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration recommended that pause while investigating blood clots in six women in the days after vaccination, in combination with reduced platelet counts that would make the usual treatment for the clots dangerous.

Johnson & Johnson said no clear causal link has been established between its vaccine and the clots.

Millions of doses of the J&J vaccine have been given around the country, the vast majority with no or mild side effects. The majority of vaccines administered in the U.S. have been from Pfizer and Moderna, which aren’t affected by the pause.

Ohio health officials were expected to discuss the state impact and response at a news conference Tuesday afternoon. They’ve been using the single-dose J&J shot for vaccination clinics on university campuses and to expand availability in other areas.

Cincinnati-based Kroger Co. halted administering the J&J vaccine at pharmacies and clinics in its supermarkets. Patients who were scheduled to receive that vaccine will instead get the Pfizer or Moderna two-dose vaccination if those are available, and if not, Kroger will work to reschedule those vaccination appointments, spokesperson Kristal Howard said.

Cleveland State University announced it was pausing its student vaccination center as a precaution, and Kent State postponed its J&J clinics until further notice. The University of Cincinnati said its arena was still accepting walk-in patients on Tuesday, but they would get the Pfizer vaccine.

Ohio University said it will also switch to using Pfizer doses at its upcoming student clinics. Its statement acknowledged that the halt in J&J vaccines may be especially concerning to those who have received that type, but it noted that the blood clotting occurrences have been rare.

In Toledo, where health providers are racing to vaccinate more people as cases surge in neighboring Michigan, the J&J pause hinders efforts to get vaccines out faster, said Eric Zgodzinski, health commissioner for Lucas County.

Providers who planned to use the J&J vaccine in a coordinated campaign to reach those who are homebound will need to use a different vaccine, he said. A mass clinic scheduled Tuesday was switching from J&J to doses of Moderna.

“We do have vaccine available for everybody who wants it this week and in the coming weeks,” Zgodzinski said.

The county has about 5,000 J&J doses now on hold, he said.

By Kantele Franko

Associated Press