On April 13, the CDC and the FDA recommended that the Johnson and Johnson (J&J) Janssen COVID-19 Vaccine go on “pause” due to rare blood clot concerns.
According to the CDC a small number of women aged 18 to 48 developed rare, severe blood clots, with symptoms beginning six to 13 days post vaccination with the J&J vaccine. Specifically, these cases involved cerebral venous sinus thrombosis (CVST) and low platelet counts according to the CDC and FDA. The CDC urges that the threat to those who have received the vaccine remains “very low.” The blood clots occured in just six of the 6.8 million vaccine recipients as of April 12, according to a joint statement by the FDA and CDC.
The CDC advises seeking urgent medical care if you have recently received the vaccine and are experiencing severe headaches, backaches, new neurologic symptoms, severe abdominal pain, shortness of breath, leg swelling, tiny red spots on the skin (petechiae) or new or easy bruising.
“We do not know enough yet to say if the vaccine is related to or caused this health issue. To be extra careful, CDC and FDA recommend that the vaccine not be given until we learn more,” states the CDC guidelines page. “COVID-19 vaccine safety is a top priority for the federal government, and all reports of health problems following COVID-19 vaccination are taken very seriously. This potential safety issue was caught early, and this pause reflects the federal government’s commitment to transparency as CDC and FDA review these data.”
This comes after SUNY was given 18,600 doses to use across 34 campuses, including New Paltz.
“We started with 200 doses and had requested 400 for the second week when J&J was put on pause,” said Director of Student Health Services Dr. Jack Ordway M.D.
“We have 10 doses left which won’t expire for a long time (some students didn’t keep their appointments or canceled late in the day). If the pause is lifted at some point the vaccine will be offered to students. No vaccine [will be] wasted,” said Vice President of Student Affairs Stephanie Blaisdell.
Students, with priority being given to on campus students, were able to schedule appointments starting April 7, and begin receiving them April 8 on the College Terrace, according to a NPForward text alert.
“Personally, I was very excited about getting the vaccine,” said undecided first-year Matt Florio. “I have heard about the pause on the J&J vaccine. I am personally not worried about it at all and don’t believe it should deter anyone who wants to get the vaccine because the numbers were so small.”
Florio described the vaccination process at New Paltz as “quick and easy” citing brief questionnaires, and kind and contienscious healthcare staff.
Abigail Edgeller, a senior with a double major is French and Spanish, also received the J&J vaccine on campus and found the process “very easy and well organized.”
“Having the option to get the vaccine on campus was so easy. I was really excited to get the vaccine and was happy that I had done it because I did not want to drive far away to get it or deal with the struggle of getting an appointment,” Edgeller said. “I first heard about the pause on the J&J vaccine from my mom who told me about the blood clot concerns. I was slightly concerned, but after looking into it more and realizing that millions of people had received the same vaccine as I did, I was not as worried.”
For the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccines, there have been no reports matching those associated with the J&J vaccine as of April 13, with more than 180 million doses administered. According to Blaisdell and Dr. Ordway, the school is unable to order these vaccines as most students would not be able to receive their second dose before going home.
Although the school is not able to offer on campus J&J vaccinations at this time, according to NPForward text alert from Saturday, April 17, Ulster County is offering walk-in vaccinations on April 24, and previously offered them on April 19 and April 20, with no appointment needed for the Moderna vaccine.
On Saturday, April 24, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. walk-in vaccination will be available at Ellenville High School, located on 28 Maple Ave., Ellenville, New York, which is approximately 22 miles from campus.
People who utilize this opportunity will automatically be signed up for a second-dose appointment 28 days later. For more information on COVID-19 vaccination appointments, visit New York’s Am I Eligible Website at https://am-i-eligible.covid19vaccine.health.ny.gov/.