Johnson & Johnson vaccine rollout pauses amid health concerns


Amanda Hare

Together, a mask and COVID-19 vaccination card sit on a black backdrop. The vaccination card is from a teacher who received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine over spring break through the district. On Tuesday, April 13, J&J announced that they were pausing the rollout of their vaccine due to health concerns.

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The widely distributed Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine has halted in its administering as a result of potential health hazards that could pose a threat to specific individuals.

The pause on the distribution went into effect per a joint effort from a Food and Drug Administration and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention request Tuesday, April 14. This came after six confirmed patients experienced a rare form of blood clotting, leaving one individual dead and another in a life-threatening health condition. Currently, 6.8 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine were distributed and administered in all states, yet, the individuals who experienced the health hazard fall within the same social classification. These are women, primarily, within 18 to 48 years old. Even with the potential health hazard that could pose a threat to the vaccination handouts, many individuals locally have said they still feel confident in their vaccine.

“I chose to get the J&J vaccine because it was a one-and-done shot,” Collin County resident Bekah Kuehn said. “As a working mother of two, I don’t have a lot of free time to go wait in lines at clinics. At first, it made me pause when I heard the news, but the CDC update I read said there were only six reported cases out of 6.8 million dosages that caused concern, so I still feel confident in my decision.”

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The main draw-in for the J&J vaccine is the less time-consuming process. Individuals who receive the J&J vaccine only require one shot, unlike Pfizer or other competitors who require a second dose.

I chose to get the J&J vaccine because it was a one-and-done shot. As a working mother of two, I don’t have a lot of free time to go wait in lines at clinics.”

— Bekah Kuehn

Engineering and computer science teacher Timothy Fangman received the J&J vaccine over spring break at the Stonebriar Pharmacy through the district.

“In order to push the world past the pandemic we are in, vaccinating is the solution to help our bodies understand how to fight the virus,” Fangman said. “Teachers were added to the state’s phase 1 vaccination rollout plan, which afforded me the opportunity to get the vaccine early.”

The PISD board has sent out vaccination sites and opportunities for staff who are interested.

“We have been in contact with local health professionals, our local EMS, as well as Denton and Collin County on locations,” superintendent Holly Ferguson said. “Staff can get the vaccine if they are choosing to do so.”

On top of vaccination recommendations and sites, the staff is also required to fill out weekly forms that discuss vaccination plans or statuses.

“When I showed up at my appointment time, I had to show identification and fill out two pieces of paperwork, regarding my personal information, insurance, consent, etc.,” Fangman said. “From there, I had a short wait to receive my one-shot dose.”

Leading up to the injection, precautions taken to monitor and ensure one’s health.

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“Before injecting, I was asked if I had ever experienced any side effects from a vaccine, which arm I would like to receive the shot, and the common side effects,” Fangman said. “After receiving the vaccine, I received my vaccine report card, a sucker, and had to wait 15 minutes as a precaution to make sure I had no immediate side effects. From there, I was good to go.”

While common side effects include soreness, fatigue and pain at the injection site, others with the vaccine have not experienced any of these symptoms.

“I was a little sore, but overall I feel fine,” Kuehn said. “I’m not a doctor, so I would always recommend people talk to their personal physician or CDC guidelines and make their own decisions.”

However, even once staff members are vaccinated, they are still required to continue to follow the COVID-19 protocols put in place for the Prosper Independent School District.

“Masks are still required,” Ferguson said. “Unless they are in outdoor spaces, then masks are optional, but that is the same for vaccinated and unvaccinated staff.”

According to Ferguson, vaccination is not a requirement for teachers.

“The PISD school board is not requiring vaccines at this time, and the school has no plans on requiring the COVID-19 vaccine,” Ferguson said.