HOUSTON — More than 2,000 people were scheduled to get the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine at a mass vaccination site in Denver on Wednesday. However, health officials shut the site down after 11 people reported symptoms of nausea and dizziness. Those who experienced the symptoms made up less than 1% of the people vaccinated that day. Two people were taken to the hospital.
Dr. Luis Ostrosky, chief of infectious diseases at McGovern Medical School at UTHealth, says health officials in Colorado halted vaccinations out of an abundance of caution. He said this has happened a couple times before during the pandemic as vaccines were rolled out.
“When people start seeing effects, they pause and assess if this is what is expected or if there could be a problem with that batch of vaccines or another issue,” Ostrosky said.
Centura Health in Denver says the batch used Wednesday is being analyzed at a Colorado state lab. They will continue administering the J&J vaccine in the meantime.
Ostrosky said it’s unlikely the adverse events will halt vaccinations in other parts of the country. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine will be available at NRG Park Friday. Harris County Public Health released the following statement about the vaccine:
"We’re a little over a month into providing Johnson & Johnson vaccinations through HCPH. To date, we have had very few cases in which adverse reactions occurred and required our onsite EMT staff members to assist residents. We believe the J&J reactions are not any higher than for any of our other vaccine types either. (< 0.3%). All of the documented incidents featured symptoms that were listed as potential side effects from the vaccine. We will continue to monitor for any unusual reactions."
Ostrosky does not think people in Houston should worry about the safety of the shot.
“Johnson & Johnson went through the same sort of approval that the other vaccines went through. It’s a very safe vaccine. It’s very effective in preventing deaths and hospitalizations,” Ostrosky said.
He says that’s the most important thing to remember, because vaccines are the best shot at moving past the pandemic.