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Summit County resumes Johnson and Johnson vaccine after two week pause

Summit County's drive-thru mass vaccination clinic opens at county fairgrounds
Posted at 5:09 PM, Apr 26, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-26 19:12:23-04

AKRON, Ohio — Summit County is planning to resume the administration of Johnson and Johnson COVID-19 vaccines at the Summit County Fairgrounds in Tallmadge.

The county is taking appointments from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. on May 1 but may expand the time frame depending on the interest. Appointments can be made online or by calling Summit County Public Health. Walk-ins will also be accepted.

The shots were paused nearly two weeks ago. Federal health officials discovered a rare side effect of blood clots from 15 women out of nearly eight million people who received the Johnson and Johnson vaccine, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Summit County last administered the vaccine on April 12. Colleges, including the University of Akron and Kent State University, also paused giving out the one-shot vaccine.

Summit County Health Commissioner Donna Skoda said Ohio health leaders were informed last Friday that the Johnson and Johnson shots could resume with a warning known as emergency use authorization.

"The EUA now says that they want to warn providers that there could be, in fact, this very rare side effect," Skoda said.

Skoda believes the hesitancy to take the vaccine will linger for some.

An ABC News/Washington Post survey found that fewer than half of Americans see the Johnson and Johnson vaccine as safe. In addition, 73% of people not yet vaccinated are unwilling to get that specific vaccine.

However, Skoda hopes local residents feel reassured by science indicating the vaccine is safe and effective.

"I can tell you if you get COVID, your chance of getting blood clots are a whole lot more than getting a vaccine with J and J," Skoda said.

Despite the reluctance from some, Skoda said her agency also typically gets a couple of calls daily from people who only want the Johnson and Johnson shot.

"It's very appealing to individuals who don't like shots and individuals that are younger and want one-and-done."

Marls Zwinggi and Stacy Bene run Vaccine Queens, which assists people trying to book vaccine appointments. To date, the volunteers have booked 2,200 appointments throughout Northeast Ohio.

Zwinggi said fewer people are requesting the Johnson and Johnson vaccine, but they're also not specifically asking to avoid it. She believes most people were aware of the pause.

"I think some people who wanted the J and J have now been open to Pfizer or Moderna and that's a great option as well," Zwinggi said. "It might have caused some hesitancy, but I think people also recognize that scientists are looking at all the data."

Skoda said there have been 48,000 cases of COVID-19 and 1,065 deaths in Summit County since the pandemic started.

To date, 31% of county residents have been fully vaccinated and 42% percent of residents have received at least one dose.

Skoda wants those numbers to be much higher.

"This isn't opting out of a flu shot," she said. "This is opting out of a potentially life-saving treatment."