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Bryce Jordan Center COVID-19 Vaccination Clinic ‘Paused’ as Pennsylvania Temporarily Halts Johnson & Johnson Vaccine

The state-run regional vaccination clinic at Penn State’s Bryce Jordan Center is on a temporary hiatus until at least April 20 as Pennsylvania follows federal guidance to pause administering the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine.

“As soon as the federal guidance was issued we likewise followed suit and paused that clinic at this time until we await further guidance from the federal government,” Acting Secretary of Health Allison Beam said during a news conference on Tuesday.

The clinic, operated by the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency and Department of Health, opened on Friday and planned to vaccinate up to 600 people a day, five days a week, using the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

Of the more than 6.8 million people in the United States who have received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, there have been just six incidents of rare blood clots that occurred within two weeks of being vaccinated. The six were women between the ages of 18 and 48.

Centers for Disease Control and Food and Drug Administration officials said in a joint statement on Tuesday that “these adverse reactions appear to be extremely rare” but recommended “out of an abundance of caution” that providers pause administration of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine while the six cases are reviewed.

“This is important, in part, to ensure that the health care provider community is aware of the potential for these adverse events and can plan for proper recognition and management due to the unique treatment required with this type of blood clot,” the statement said.

The CDC will convene a meeting of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices on Wednesday to further review the cases and assess their significance.

Preliminary information indicates none of the six incidents occurred in Pennsylvania, where 262,739 doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine have been administered, but Beam said the state is waiting for confirmation.

“While this announcement is challenging, it highlights the vaccine evaluation process,” Acting Secretary of Health Alison Beam said. “The CDC and the FDA are closely monitoring vaccines for safety and effectiveness, and if there is a cause for concern, they will take action because safety is paramount. This protocol should give all Pennsylvanians confidence in the safety and effectiveness of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccine, and individuals should proceed with getting vaccinated as soon as possible to fight the virus, particularly as our case counts rise.”

Pennsylvania providers will not administer the Johnson & Johnson vaccine until they received further guidance, Beam said. She urged that individuals with appointments to receive the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine keep them.

“While this announcement is challenging, it highlights the vaccine evaluation process,” Acting Secretary of Health Alison Beam said. “The CDC and the FDA are closely monitoring vaccines for safety and effectiveness, and if there is a cause for concern, they will take action because safety is paramount. This protocol should give all Pennsylvanians confidence in the safety and effectiveness of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccine, and individuals should proceed with getting vaccinated as soon as possible to fight the virus, particularly as our case counts rise.”

For individuals who were scheduled to receive the Johnson & Johnson vaccine and whose providers cannot arrange for one of the other two, Beam recommended that they seek out another appointment.

Pfizer and Moderna vaccine appointment waitlists are available in Centre County through Mount Nittany HealthCentre Volunteers in MedicineBoalsburg Apothecary and Moshannon Valley Pharmacy. Appointments also are available through retail pharmacies and other providers listed on the Department of Health COVID-19 vaccine website.

All Pennsylvania adults are eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine as of Tuesday. As of Tuesday morning, 37,425 people in Centre County are fully vaccinated and 19,966 are partially covered.

The state’s initial shipments of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine were administered to teachers and other school personnel.

Acting Physician General Dr. Denise Johnson said that because that initiative was completed more than two weeks ago, “there shouldn’t be worry.”

People who have received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine who develop severe headache, abdominal pain, leg pain or shortness of breath within three weeks of their vaccination should contact their health care provider.