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Health & Science

Summit Fairgrounds Vaccination Clinic Swaps J&J for Pfizer While Blood Clotting Cases Undergo Investigation

pharmacy technician prepares doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine
Michael Ciaglo
Getty Images
A pharmacy technician prepares doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine at a mass vaccination event in Denver in February. The Summit County Public Health's drive-thru mass vaccination site at the fairgrounds in Tallmadge is switching from the Johnson & Johnson vaccine to the Pfizer vaccine for Sunday.

In the past week, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine rollout has halted nationwide as a result of some concern with rare, but severe, side effects. In Summit County at least, the pause in administering the Johnson & Johnson vaccine could have a resolution by the end of the month.

In the meantime, the county's public health offices have issued a press release assuring residents that they will be able to access other vaccines through mass vaccination clinics held at the Summit County Fairgrounds.

“It remains a priority for us to vaccinate as many individuals as possible. With the state’s support in providing FDA approved vaccine, we will continue to vaccinate as planned,” Health Commissioner Donna Skoda said.

“The pause of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine will not affect the mass vaccination clinics held at the Summit County Fairgrounds. Those clinics will continue to run as scheduled,” county public health representatives said. “However, the pause will affect the vaccine we are administering at the mass vaccination site.”

Speaking on Facebook Friday, county Medical Director Dr. Erika Sobolewski said the county halted using the vaccine even though there have been just six cases of extreme blood clotting out of the 6.8 million doses administered in the U.S. Within the next two weeks, Sobolewski expects a decision about the vaccine from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s immunization advisory committee.

SOBOLEWSKI summit vaccine 0416.wav
Sobolewski: expecting a decision on the J&J vaccine

“Either they can stop J&J and we will not administer it again. [Or] they can just go ahead and say, ‘Hey, the pause is over,’ and we go just like we have," Sobolewski said. "Or they’ll come somewhere in between and say, ‘We’ll have these caveats that maybe women between [certain ages], or people with certain risk factors, maybe step away from J&J and go forth with a different vaccine recommendation.”

The health department has opened hundreds of appointments for Sunday at the fairgrounds drive-thru vaccine site. Appointments can be made online, and walk-ins are also accepted.

A photo of Randolph Fair.
Andrew Meyer
The Portage County Randolph Fairgrounds hosts a crowd for the traditional purpose. These days, the fairgrounds in Tallmadge are the location of Summit County Public Health's mass vaccination site, which is still operating as it switches to the Pfizer vaccine. According to the health department, hundreds of appointments for vaccinations are available Sunday.

The clinic will administer the Pfizer vaccine that requires two doses. Those who are vaccinated will be assigned the date of their second dose during their initial appointment, and there will be no flexibility with scheduling the second dose appointment.