Johnson & Johnson vaccine pause: College students scrambling to figure out vaccine alternatives

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- On college campuses across the Southland, thousands of students were banking on getting the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. They were hoping to be "one and done" before heading home for the summer.

The vaccine that Chapman University senior Lindsey Arabian was scheduled to get was put on hold.

"I woke up that morning and saw a bunch of news notifications on my phone. At first I was like, I very much would not like to develop any blood clots," she said. "I guess I just have to wait and see what Chapman has to say."

Jeff Goad, PharmD., chair of Chapman University's Department of Pharmacy Practice, said the school was scheduled to administer 1,000 J&J vaccines to students and faculty on Friday.

"As a one-dose vaccine, it has tremendous advantages in a college population. Especially one that is about ready to go on break," Goad said. "Traditionally when you do a large mass vaccination event or outreach, you do tend to bring only one vaccine, both for storage reasons, for documentation and to make sure that there aren't mix-ups."

The university didn't want to cancel its event. So the staff along with its vaccine partner, Ralphs Pharmacy, secured 1,000 Pfizer vaccine doses. It won't be one and done, but Goad said most students will find ways to stick around for their second dose.

"We already had 950 appointments within 24 hours of opening up the appointment system, so students just want to get vaccinated," he said. "I'm not sure they care which one it is. They just want to get vaccinated."

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The fallout from the nationwide pause of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine distribution is creating a domino effect in the effort to get herd immunity.

"As long as people are getting vaccinated, I think it's OK to sacrifice a couple more weeks," said Arabian, who is a journalism major. "I did like what a typical broadcast journalist would do and I just started researching."
After reviewing the six cases, Arabian said she'd be willing to take the Johnson & Johnson vaccine if it became available again. She hopes others will do their own research.

"The more people that are vaccinated, the faster we reach herd immunity, the faster we can go back to what we consider normal," she said.

Arabian is looking forward to a bright future.

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