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Chicago, Several Suburbs Cancel Events Over J&J Vaccine Pause

Kane County canceled two vaccination events set for Tuesday in wake of the news

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Chicago and several surrounding suburbs have canceled vaccine events following a recommendation from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to pause administration of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine as regulators investigate reports of potentially dangerous blood clots.

Kane County canceled two vaccination events set for Tuesday in wake of the news.

In Aurora, a state-run mass vaccination site located 970 N. Lake St. was canceled and the 1,000 appointments that had been booked for the clinic will be rescheduled, city officials said in a release. Tuesday was the city's last Johnson & Johnson clinic scheduled so far.

"We are encouraging anyone who took the Johnson & Johnson vaccine in recent days to seek medical attention if they have concerns. While these cases may be rare, please make it a priority to visit a healthcare provider immediately," the city said in a statement. "We look forward to a thorough review of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine by federal health officials. In the meantime, we will continue to support vaccine rollout efforts where vaccines developed by Pfizer and Moderna are used."

An Elgin vaccination location at 1080 E. Chicago St. was also canceled.

Anyone who had appointments for both locations will be rescheduled for a Pfizer dose on April 20.

“I would like to encourage everyone who was scheduled to receive the Johnson and Johnson vaccine today at the Aurora and Elgin mass vaccination sites to please reschedule their appointments,” Kane County Board Chairman Corinne Pierog said in a statement. “Our commitment to the safety of our residents is unwavering. Even though the CDC and IDPH have placed a pause on administering the Johnson and Johnson vaccine, residents should feel confident about Moderna and Pfizer and get vaccinated.”

Additional vaccine appointments in the county may still be available at www.kanevax.org, officials said.

Chicago is also pausing use of the Johnson & Johnson COVID vaccine, the city said Tuesday, leading to the suspension or cancellation of several events.

Several vaccination events are being halted for now, including the city's homebound program, which brings the single-dose vaccine to those who cannot leave their homes, as well as vaccinations at O'Hare Airport, through the CTA's mobile vaccination bus and at some events through employers and unions, like a vaccination event for food service workers that had been scheduled with the Illinois Restaurant Association.

Vaccinations at the Chicago State University site that were initially supposed to be Johnson & Johnson doses may be switched to the other two vaccines, officials said, depending on supply.

The full list of canceled programs includes:

  • Protect Chicago Homebound program
  • O’Hare Airport POD
  • Chicago Federation of Labor vaccination site
  • CDPH/CTA vaccination bus
  • Illinois Restaurant Association special event
  • Midway Airport special event

Anyone with appointments for these events should receive notification about rescheduling.

"We are working closely with our partners at the federal and local level to determine how this impacts the city’s vaccine operations," the Chicago Department of Public Health said in a statement.

As for the United Center, CDPH Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said Pfizer doses are currently being administered but the city is "waiting to hear from FEMA on their intended plans for vaccination" as Johnson & Johnson doses were expected to be used at the facility in the coming days and weeks. For now, the city has stopped booking new walk-up appointments for the facility.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker said the state will be sending 50,000 first doses of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines to the city within the next week, with plans to send an additional 50,000 doses in the coming weeks to be used for the second shots.

"While incredibly rare, anyone who has received the J&J vaccine who develops severe headache, abdominal pain, leg pain, or shortness of breath within three weeks after their vaccination should contact their health provider," the city said. "This recommendation does not affect Pfizer or Moderna vaccine in any way. Vaccination remains critical to protect Chicagoans from COVID-19 and we will share more information as we receive it."

Illinois will also pause use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine "out of an abundance of caution"

"IDPH has notified all Illinois COVID-19 providers throughout the state to discontinue use of the J&J vaccine at this time," the Illinois Department of Public Health said in a statement. "In order to keep appointments, IDPH is strongly advising providers to use Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines."

Health officials say a majority of Illinois' vaccine doses are from Moderna and Pfizer's vaccines. Of the expected 483,720 doses the state is set to receive next week, 5,800 were set to be Johnson & Johnson.

"IDPH will continue to update the public as additional information becomes available," the department's statement read.

Walgreens, Jewel-Osco and several Chicago-area counties have said they plan to pause J&J vaccinations as well.

In a joint statement Tuesday, the CDC and FDA said they were investigating unusual clots in six women that occurred 6 to 13 days after vaccination. The clots occurred in veins that drain blood from the brain and occurred together with low platelets. All six cases were in women between the ages of 18 and 48.

The reports appear similar to a rare, unusual type of clotting disorder that European authorities say is possibly linked to another COVID-19 vaccine not yet cleared in the U.S., from AstraZeneca.

More than 6.8 million doses of the J&J vaccine have been administered in the U.S., the vast majority with no or mild side effects.

Officials say they want to educate vaccine providers and health professionals about the “unique treatment” required for this type of clot.

They are recommending that people who were given the J&J vaccine who are experiencing severe headache, abdominal pain, leg pain, or shortness of breath within three weeks after receiving the shot contact their health care provider.

If you received the J&J shot and have not developed any of the side effects associated with signs of blood clots within three weeks after vaccination, the risk of an adverse reaction is unlikely. Health officials urge patients to continue monitoring for symptoms.

An advisory committee is scheduled to meet Wednesday to review the reactions and consider how to proceed.

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