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Reynolds Says 'Pause' In Johnson & Johnson Vaccine Will Be Manageable

Gov. Kim Reynolds said at an April 14 press conference, a pause to the distribution of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine will be manageable for Iowa.
Natalie Krebs
Gov. Kim Reynolds said at a press conference Wednesday that a pause in the distribution of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine will be manageable for Iowa.

Following federal recommendations for providers to temporarily 'pause' the use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, Gov. Kim Reynolds said she expects the state's vaccination efforts to move forward.

On Tuesday morning, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration recommended vaccine providers cease the use of the single-dose vaccine while it investigates cases of extremely rare blood clots in six women who received it.

Following the federal government's recommendation, state officials requested the state's providers stop using the vaccine temporarily on Tuesday.

At a press conference on Wednesday, Reynolds called the move a "surprising setback" that the state didn’t have advance warning to plan for.

But she said Johnson & Johnson vaccine doses currently make up a small amount of the state’s supply due to manufacturing plant issues.

"We were already planning for a minimal supply over the next few weeks due to the slowdown in manufacturing that had been anticipated," she said. "So the immediate impact of this decision on our vaccine supply should be manageable."

She said the state was expecting just a few thousand doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine this week, down from an allocation of more than 45,000 last week.

The decision to pause the Johnson & Johnson vaccine has caused some of the state’s mass vaccination clinics to be placed on hold.

Reynolds said the federal government has increased the state’s Moderna and Pfizer vaccine allocation to help, and urged Iowans to seek out the other approved two-dose vaccines.

Reynolds urged Iowans keep an open mind while the state waits for further federal guidance.

"While news of a serious reaction to the J&J vaccine is concerning, it's important that we don't jump to conclusions prematurely before more details are known," she said.

Reynolds received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine during a March 3 press conference.

On Wednesday, she said after the shot, she experienced mild side effects such as a headache and general fatigue that lasted less than 24 hours.

"I'm glad that I did have the opportunity to have the J&J vaccine. I would do it again," she said.

Patricia Winokur, the executive dean at the University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine, who oversaw the university's Pfizer vaccine trial, said at the press conference that the recommended pause is proof "our system is working correctly."

"Every drug that we create has rare side effects. We don't see those side effects until we start distributing the vaccine or drug into the general public and millions of people are dosed," she said. "That's what we're seeing here — a 'one in a million' type of event."

A CDC advisory committee is meeting Wednesday to review the data and is expected to issue recommendations for the vaccine.

According to state data, more than 85,000 Iowans have received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, compared to more than a million people who have received at least one dose of a Moderna or Pfizer vaccine.

Natalie Krebs is IPR's Health Reporter