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Iowa Health Officials Advise Pause In The Use Of The Johnson & Johnson Vaccine

Natalie Krebs
IPR File
Gov. Kim Reynolds receives her dose of the COVID-19 Johnson & Johnson vaccine along with husband, Kevin, on March 3.

State health officials have advised all COVID-19 vaccine administrators to temporarily stop the use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine effective Tuesday morning.

The move comes after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Food and Drug Administration issued a joint statement Tuesday, calling for an immediate 'pause' in the use of the one-dose vaccine after six individuals experienced severe and rare blood clots, resulting in one death and another in critical condition.

Federal officials said they are recommending health providers stop using the vaccine until they further investigate these cases, which occurred in women ages 18 to 48.

During a press call on Tuesday morning, Peter Marks, the director of the Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, said the agencies made the recommendation out of "an abundance of caution."

"Right now, these events appear to be extremely rare," Marks said. "That said, COVID-19 vaccine safety is a top priority for federal government, and we take all reports of adverse events following vaccination very seriously."

Federal officials said those who have received the vaccine in the past few weeks and experience severe headaches, abdominal pain, leg pain or shortness of breath should contact their health care provider.

This announcement has caused the disruption of several mass vaccination clinics, including one scheduled at the University of Northern Iowa on Tuesday for approximately 500 students.

UNI officials said no doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine have been administered on campus, and students were given the option to book available appointments for the Pfizer vaccine.

Iowa State University officials said they are monitoring the situation for clinics scheduled next week and will not administer any doses of the vaccine until they receive further guidance from the federal government.

According to state data, more than 78,000 doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine have been administered in Iowa.

Gov. Kim Reynolds received the vaccine at a March 3 press conference.

Reynolds said she chose the vaccine, which had just received emergency authorization from the FDA, to reassure Iowans of its efficacy.

The overall efficacy rate of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is lower than that of the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines, but it has been found to be extremely effective in preventing severe illness and hospitalizations associated with COVID-19.