2 health systems pause J&J vaccinations after adverse patient reactions

Two health systems temporarily halted the use of Johnson & Johnson's COVID-19 vaccine after a small percentage of patients experienced adverse reactions. 

Centura Health in Centennial, Colo., said April 7 it temporarily closed a mass vaccination site in Commerce City, Colo., that it runs with the state after 11 people had adverse reactions to Johnson & Johnson's vaccine. 

Colorado's public health department said that the 11 people who had adverse reactions at Centura Health's vaccine site experienced symptoms including nausea and dizziness. Emergency medical technicians treated nine of the 11 people on-site with juice and water, while the other two were taken to hospitals for further observation "out of an abundance of caution."

Centura Health tweeted that the number of people who experienced adverse events at the site April 7 equaled 0.62 percent of the more than 1,700 who had been vaccinated there that day. 

Centura Health CEO Peter Banko told Becker's that the health system sequestered the batch of Johnson & Johnson vaccines and sent them to be investigated to determine what could have caused the adverse reactions. He said it was the first time the vaccine site had seen the same reaction occur to multiple people consistently. 

He added that anyone who received a Johnson & Johnson vaccine at the site April 7 and didn't experience an adverse reaction shouldn't be concerned about the quality of the shot. 

Lindsay Radford, a Centura Health spokesperson, confirmed to Becker's that the decision to temporarily close the site was made jointly between the health system and the state. The site is open from Sunday to Wednesday and will be up and running as usual next week.

UNC Health in Chapel Hill, N.C. said April 8 it paused administering Johnson & Johnson's vaccine after a small number of patients experienced adverse reactions, according to CBS 17, a CBS affiliate in Goldsboro, N.C. It didn't specify how many, but Alan Wolf, a health system spokesperson, told Becker's that "only a handful of patients experienced lightheadedness or fainting." No one had to go to the hospital.

According to a statement emailed to Becker's from UNC Health, less than 1 percent of people who have received Johnson & Johnson's vaccine at the health system's clinics have reported lightheadedness or fainting. 

"Those getting the J&J vaccine have tended to be younger and many are also preferring this vaccine due to an aversion to needles. This may also be why there have been more reactions in those vaccinated with J&J," UNC Health said.

The CDC stated April 9 it has found no evidence of a safety concern for the Johnson & Johnson vaccine after looking at the cases in North Carolina and other parts of the country, UNC Health said. 

UNC Health plans to continue vaccinating people with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine April 10. 

Wake County, N.C., also paused vaccinations at PNC Arena after 18 people had adverse reactions to the shot and four people went to the hospital, CBS 17 reported. 

Duke Health in Durham, N.C., told CBS 17 it received the same batch of Johnson & Johnson vaccines as the Wake County vaccine clinic, but it doesn't plan to halt use because no patients at Duke have experienced serious incidents.

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