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Iowa Reaction to Johnson & Johnson Vaccine Halt

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IOWA CITY, Iowa — With the CDC recommendation that the United States pause vaccinations of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine, there was reaction in the state of Iowa, where college students were anxious to get their one-shot vaccine. The vaccine was halted due to six reports of blood clotting out of the nearly 7 million people who had received the vaccine.

“People who got the Johnson & Johnson vaccine are to watch for headaches, severe abdominal pain, shortness of breath. These are some of the signs with clotting disorders,” said Dr. Patricia Winokur, executive dean of the Carver College of Medicine at the University of Iowa. Dr. Winokur also was on the committee which oversaw the development of the Pfizer vaccine.

During an afternoon media briefing Tuesday, Dr. Winokur was asked if we would ever see the Johnson & Johnson vaccine again.

“I think we don’t have enough data yet,” said Dr. Winokur. “I think the CDC has the raw data. We’ve only seen what’s been released into the press and we need the real data and we need some of those experts to weigh in.”

When asked about what college students should do, Dr. Winokur said they should move forward in getting whichever vaccine they can.

“We still have the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. Both of the production has been ramped up tremendously over the past month, so we will be getting more doses of Pfizer and Moderna,” said Dr. Winokur. “As soon as we get those vaccines doses, we will be distributing them, and they are great for students.”

The internal medicine physician was asked if the halting of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine might discourage some from getting a vaccine.

Dr. Winokur said she thinks that might be possible, but she is hoping that won’t happen.

“Now is the time to be really diligent with those standard practices,” said Dr. Winokur. “Everybody has learned try to forget. We’re trying to teach them again that these are really important.”

Iowa State University and University of Iowa Hospitals & Clinics said they would suspend use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine for the time being. One Iowa State student was ready to get the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

“It seems scary, but it’s smart to be cautious. I don’t think that’s too much of a problem. I’d still volunteer to have been vaccinated myself,” said Gunnar Stock, a graduating senior from Whitefish Bay, Wisconsin. “They talked about how all students are eligible next week to get the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, although this recent news about the blood clots, we’ll see how Iowa State responds and see if they cancel it or keep up the schedule.”  

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