Ohio University provides important update on Johnson & Johnson vaccine distribution

Published: April 13, 2021 Author: Staff reports

Pfizer vaccine will be distributed at clinics on Athens campus

The following message was shared with the OHIO community on April 13, 2021.

This morning we learned – along with the rest of the nation – that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have announced a pause in distribution of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine out of an abundance of caution after identification of a rare and severe blood-clotting disorder. These symptoms occurred 6 to 13 days after vaccination and occurred in only six individuals out of the more than six million people who have received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine in the U.S.

We understand that this information may be concerning to many of you, particularly those of you who have received the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine in recent weeks, so we want to provide you with the information that we have as quickly as possible and to point you to useful resources for more information.

While the FDA and CDC have announced a “pause” in distribution, we want to reassure anyone who is scheduled to receive a vaccine at one of our upcoming student clinics that we have worked quickly and closely with the Athens City-County Health Department (ACCHD) and the Ohio Department of Health (ODH) to shift to administering Pfizer vaccines at these clinics.

Importantly, there are no reports of these rare side effects with the other COVID-19 vaccines available in the U.S. (Pfizer and Moderna). The CDC and the ACCHD advise that those who have appointments to receive a Pfizer or Moderna vaccine keep those appointments, and that those who were scheduled to receive a Johnson & Johnson vaccine instead reschedule to receive a Pfizer or Moderna vaccine.

Dr. James Gaskell, health commissioner and medical director for the Athens City-County Health Department, explained in a call with University leadership this morning that although this news is disconcerting, the pause is an indication of how well the U.S. vaccine monitoring system (VAERS) works: Vaccine administrators reported these rare occurrences through the system and the CDC and FDA swiftly made the decision to pause administration so that they can learn more.

Information about Athens Student Vaccination Clinics

This news comes just as the University and OHIO COVID Operations have been inviting students to campus clinics administered through a partnership with ACCHD featuring the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. We are aware that some of you have already received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine or have scheduled appointments to receive it.

OHIO's student COVID-19 vaccination clinics will now offer the Pfizer vaccine for students who would like to receive one. The Pfizer vaccine requires a second dose 21 days after the first. Because some students may not be able to return to campus for the second dose, University leadership has identified several options for students to secure their second dose.

These clinics featuring the Pfizer vaccine, which is approved for anyone age 16 and older, will be available to any OHIO student on the following dates from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.: 

Weds., April 14 (second dose on Weds., May 5)

Fri., April 16 (second dose on Fri., May 7)

Mon., April 19 (second dose on Mon., May 10)  

Fri., April 23 (second dose on Fri., May 14)

The clinics will be held in Heritage Hall on Union Street (the Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine’s new facility) in Athens. The building is walkable from campus; for those driving to the clinic, free parking is available across Union Street in the West Union Street Office Center lot OR on the side of Heritage Hall with the Factory Street entrance. If you have limited mobility, there is accessible parking on the East side of the building. Look for signs directing you to parking.

Athens City-County Health Department staff and nurses will manage the campus clinics in collaboration with Ohio University's Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine and the School of Nursing within OHIO's College of Health Sciences and Professions.

To make an appointment:

Visit https://gettheshot.coronavirus.ohio.gov/ and use the code B4P8PAQMNO in the Access Code field.

When you get to the “Good news” page, scroll down and enter 45701 into the ZIP code field; on the Select Location page, view availability for “Athens City-County Health Department at Heritage Hall – Private.” 

Note: Only one week’s worth of appointments will be viewable in the registration system at a time.

Details about Johnson & Johnson Administration and Potential Side Effects

The Athens City-County Health Department has administered a relatively low amount of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine as compared to other available vaccines. On March 9, nearly 300 doses of Johnson & Johnson were administered within the Athens community. On April 12, the Heritage Hall student vaccination clinic administered 349 doses of Johnson & Johnson, and a total of 214 doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine have been administered through the Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine’s mobile clinics in rural Southeast Ohio since April 2021.

Individuals who received the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine and develop symptoms such as severe headache, abdominal pain, leg pain, shortness of breath, blurry vision, or nausea should contact their primary care physician and let them know that you received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine so they are aware and can order appropriate tests. Visit the CDC website for information about common COVID-19 side effects. 

Muscle aches, fever, arm soreness and other symptoms are common after any COVID-19 vaccine and are not a cause for concern. Visit the CDC website for information about common COVID-19 side effects.

In closing, we want to reaffirm that our confidence in the importance and efficacy of the other two available vaccines is not diminished by today’s news. We remain hopeful that if our campus community continues to participate in vaccination programs featuring Pfizer and Moderna that we can return to a much more normal campus in the fall. 


Kenneth Johnson, D.O.
Chief Medical Affairs Officer

Gillian Ice, Ph.D.
Special Assistant to the President for Public Health Operations