How the J&J pause is affecting campus vaccination efforts

by Jeremy

Dive Brief:

  • As the end of the academic year approaches, the recommended pause in administering the Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccine is complicating some plans to vaccinate college students while they’re still on campus.
  • The news coincided with at least two states — Ohio and Iowa — sending doses of that vaccine brand to schools. The states have since said vaccination sites should stop giving out those shots until more information is available. Student vaccination initiatives at schools elsewhere were also affected.
  • Some colleges have connected students scheduled to receive the J&J shots with either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine.

Dive Insight:

Federal health agencies on Tuesday recommended pausing administration of the shots “out of an abundance of caution” after six recipients — all women between the ages of 18 and 48 — developed a rare blood-clotting disorder. Some 7 million people in the U.S. have received the J&J shots so far. It is one of three coronavirus vaccines approved for use in the U.S. The pause came as targeted allocations from at least two states — Ohio and Iowa — helped initiate or expand student-focused vaccination efforts on college campuses.

Baldwin Wallace University, a private institution in Ohio, was not planning to vaccinate students before the notice from the state announcing it was sending a supply of the J&J vaccine. However, the university was “quickly able to ramp up communication and a clinic process,” a spokesperson said in an email earlier this week. It expected to vaccinate around 1,200 students throughout a five-day clinic, which wrapped up the day before the pause.

A release from the Ohio governor’s office Tuesday said most of Ohio’s J&J doses had been sent to mass vaccination sites and 63 public and private four-year colleges, most of which had already finished vaccinating students. Of the schools with vaccinations still underway, most offered either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines. Eight sites, five of which are university-affiliated, would pause for the week.

Wade Robinson, director of student development at Des Moines Area Community College, said officials were working to secure a partnership with a local health clinic to offer vaccines to its campus when a surprise allocation of J&J doses from the state of Iowa allowed the institution to accelerate its plans.

It offered a vaccination clinic through a pharmacy partner with 1,000 doses from the state before the pause. It’s now planning to connect students with other vaccine brands through additional clinics.

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