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After adverse reactions, Georgia vaccination site halts Johnson and Johnson COVID vaccine

The Department of Public Health and CDC are investigating.

CUMMING, Ga. —

Following reports that several people had adverse reactions after receiving the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine in Cumming, the Georgia Department of Public Health is putting a pause on administering that vaccine. 

DPH said in a release Friday that eight people experienced the reactions at their Cumming Fairgrounds vaccination site on Wednesday, April 7. One of those people was sent to the hospital and was later released. The other seven were monitored at the vaccination site and sent home, DPH said.

DPH said the reactions these adults experienced were “consistent with common reactions in adults being vaccinated with any vaccine,” but said that because of the high number of people experiencing reactions that day, they’re stopping the J&J vaccinations.

“There is no reason to believe there is anything wrong with the vaccine itself, and other individuals who have received the J&J vaccine should not be concerned,” said Kathleen E. Toomey, M.D., M.P.H., DPH commissioner. “We are looking into what happened and what may have caused the reactions, including the conditions at the fairgrounds such as heat and the ability to keep the site cool.” 

This decision comes after similar incidents in Iowa, Colorado, and North Carolina – all being investigated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The DPH said the CDC has analyzed the vaccine lots and did not find a reason for concern. 

"CDC is working closely with each of the state and local health departments to evaluate these," the agency said in a statement. 

Sarah Grant told 11Alive she had an adverse reaction to the J&J shot after getting vaccinated in Tuscaloosa, Alabama on Thursday around 10 a.m. The 20-year-old said she was feeling fine initially

"And when I got home, that's when I started feeling really dizzy, lightheaded, short of breath," she said.

Grant had a paramedic check her out; she said they told her that her vitals were fine.

"They were not even down the road for 10 minutes and I started having heart palpitations," she said. "Immediately called them back and they took me to the hospital."

She said that's when doctors told her she had an allergic reaction. 

Although some people are experiencing reactions, health experts are still reiterating that the J&J vaccine is safe and effective.

"I don't think we should lose trust in any of the vaccines, that we're using," Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious disease professor at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, said.

On Wednesday, the DPH said the North Health District administered 425 J&J vaccines. 

Johnson & Johnson sent 11Alive a statement saying in part:

"When we receive reports of adverse events in individuals receiving our medicines and vaccines, we collect necessary information and carefully assess the events. Reports about individuals receiving our COVID-19 vaccine and our assessment of those reports are shared with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and other appropriate health authorities.

Residents can still go to the Cumming Fairground to get the Pfizer vaccine. They are only suspending the administration of the J&J vaccine at this site. 

So far, Georgia has administered 4,466,497 vaccinations.

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