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Essentia Health halts administering Johnson & Johnson vaccine

Essentia Health has decided to temporarily stop administering the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine based on a recommendation from federal government officials. The Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine makes up a majority of the health care provider's supply of COVID-19 vaccine in the Brainerd lakes area.

Essentia Health St. Joseph's Medical Center Exterior Dusk3.jpg
Essentia Health-St. Joseph’s Medical Center Wednesday, Nov. 18, in Brainerd. Kelly Humphrey / Brainerd Dispatch

Essentia Health will pause the administration of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine following a recommendation from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

The Johnson & Johnson vaccine comprises much of Essentia Health’s immediate supply, according to officials who said the health care provider will reschedule all appointments for those who expected to receive that vaccine in the coming days.

Six reported cases of severe blood clotting in individuals who recently received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine are under review by the CDC and FDA. Those cases — all of which were in women between 18-48 years old — have occurred since Monday, April 12; over that same time period, more than 6.8 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine were distributed.

According to a statement from the CDC and the FDA: “Right now, these adverse events appear to be extremely rare. COVID-19 vaccine safety is a top priority for the federal government, and we take all reports of health problems following COVID-19 vaccination very seriously.”

Essential Health officials stated in a news release it is important to note this pause is not related to the effectiveness of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. Nor does anyone who has received a Johnson & Johnson shot need to be revaccinated.


“People who have received the J&J vaccine who develop severe headache, abdominal pain, leg pain or shortness of breath within three weeks after vaccination should contact their health care provider,” according to the joint statement from the CDC and the FDA.

Essentia will continue to administer the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna vaccines to anyone age 16 and older in the communities it serves. Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna vaccines are different types of vaccines and have not exhibited this rare risk in the tens of millions of doses given.

Both patients and nonpatients can schedule an appointment by using Essentia Health’s online patient portal, MyChart, or by calling 833-494-0836.

For more information on Essentia’s vaccine program, visit bit.ly/3a4Qsyr .

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