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About an hour before University of Northern Iowa on Tuesday planned to open its first campus COVID-vaccination clinic for students wanting the single-shot made by Johnson & Johnson, federal regulators advised pausing use of that specific vaccine — prompting an abrupt UNI cancellation.
“Today’s student vaccine clinic at the University of Northern Iowa will not be held after the CDC and FDA recommended a pause this morning on the use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine,” according to a UNI message. “No J&J vaccine has been administered on campus.”
The about 500 UNI students who had registered for the clinic were notified of the cancellation.
UNI and other higher education institutions in Iowa and nationally — including Iowa State University and Cornell College — recently announced a series of vaccination clinics promoting the Johnson & Johnson vaccine for students planning to leave campus before they could get a second dose required of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines.
In addition to the four-hour Tuesday clinic reserved just for students wanting the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, UNI is offering — by appointment but at no cost — three additional clinics this week for the two-dose Pfizer shot. UNI faculty, staff, and students still can schedule appointments for those clinics in the West Gym at:
- Noon to 3:10 p.m. Wednesday
- 8:20 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. Thursday
- 8:20 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Friday.
“Today was the only day this week that the J&J vaccine was scheduled to be used,” according to the UNI message Tuesday that promised, “students, faculty and staff who registered for the remaining days this week will receive the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.”
The 500 UNI students who lost their Johnson & Johnson slots Tuesday can try and register for remaining appointments on the other days.
Iowa State — planning a series of large-scale vaccination clinics on campus beginning Thursday — also on Tuesday announced it will comply with the recommended pause and “will not administer any J&J doses, pending further information and guidance from the CDC and FDA.”
Iowa State had planned to prioritize the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine for undergraduate, graduate, and professional students. The campus hasn’t indicated how pausing use of that vaccine might affect its supply for the mass vaccination clinics on April 15, April 26-May 1, and May 3-7.
Cornell College, which late last week announced plans for a Johnson & Johnson single-dose campus clinic Wednesday, reported Tuesday morning its partner Hy-Vee has arranged to switch its provisions to the two-dose Pfizer vaccine instead.
Although the University of Iowa hasn’t yet planned any mass vaccination efforts across campus for students, faculty, and staff, UI has been vaccinating qualifying students and faculty by appointment.
And on Tuesday, UI announced it’s canceling all Johnson & Johnson vaccine appointments — but will continue offering Pfizer and Moderna doses.
Gov. Kim Reynolds recently announced plans to prioritize the single-dose shots for university students planning to disperse to their respective hometowns in a matter of weeks.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, along with the Food and Drug Administration, early Tuesday issued a joint statement reporting of the more than 6.8 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine administered in the United States, six patients have developed rare blood clotting.
All six patients were women ages 18-48, with symptoms occurring six to 13 days after vaccination. The CDC is further reviewing the cases to assess their significance, and the FDA also is investigating.
“Until that process is complete,” according to the statement, “we are recommending a pause in the use of this vaccine out of an abundance of caution.”
Vanessa Miller covers higher education for The Gazette.
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