COMMERCE CITY, Colo. — Operations at the mass vaccination event at Dick's Sporting Goods Park in Commerce City have been put on pause after multiple adverse reactions to the Johnson & Johnson vaccine Wednesday, according to a spokesperson for Centura Health.
Following the administration of the vaccine and during observation onsite, a "limited number" of adverse reactions to the vaccine occurred, the spokesperson originally said. The spokesperson later confirmed 11 people who were vaccinated Wednesday had an adverse reaction. Medical staff on site determined two individuals required additional observation and were taken to nearby hospitals out of an abundance of caution.
Wednesday evening, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) said patients experienced symptoms like nausea and dizziness. Nine of them were treated on-site with juice and water.
Per protocol, Centura Health, in partnership with the state, made the decision to pause operations for the rest of Wednesday.
"Our goal is to continue to vaccinate Coloradans as quickly as possible while keeping our patients’ safety at the forefront," the spokesperson said in a statement.
CDPHE said it has no reason to believe people who were vaccinated at the site should be concerned, and adverse reactions are typically immediate.
"We know it can be alarming to hear about people getting transported to the hospital, and we want to reassure Coloradans that the CDC and public health are closely monitoring all the authorized vaccines continually. From what we know, today’s side effects were consistent with what can be expected,” said Scott Bookman, COVID-19 Incident Commander. “Getting a vaccine is far safer than getting severely sick with COVID-19."
In total, 1,700 patients were vaccinated Wednesday. The 640 patients unable to receive a vaccine will be automatically rescheduled for Sunday, April 11 at Dick's Sporting Goods Park. However, Sunday the site will be distributing Pfizer vaccines, so those who prefer a Johnson & Johnson vaccine can find other vaccine clinics here.
The situation is not impacting other vaccine providers, CDPHE says.
According to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS), which is co-managed by the CDC and the FDA, there have been 10 previous reactions documented at community vaccine sites prior to Wednesday.
The mass vaccine clinic, which is operating in partnership with Adams County and Centura Health, opened March 22 with few issues outside of some days having long wait times. The site operates Sunday-Wednesday from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Health professionals are currently vaccinating 2,000 or more people a day at the site, with hopes it will be able to serve up to 6,000 people a day once enough vaccine supply becomes available.
Other mass vaccination sites in the state include Ball Arena, Broadmoor World Arena, Grand Junction Convention Center and Colorado State Fairgrounds in Pueblo and The Ranch in Loveland.
Centura officials said in a news conference Thursday that the batch of Johnson & Johnson vaccines used Wednesday were being sequestered and investigated by the CDPHE. The officials said 11 people had reactions on Wednesday and there were none on the previous days. The two people taking to the emergency department were treated and released on Wednesday.
Johnson & Johnson issued a statement discussing the process about investigating adverse effects.
"There is no greater priority than the safety and well-being of the people we serve, and we carefully review reports of adverse events in individuals receiving our medicines and vaccines. Any report about individuals receiving our COVID-19 vaccine and our assessment of that report is shared with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and other appropriate health authorities. This is part of the established process to inform health authorities’ comprehensive surveillance programs that monitor the overall safety of medicines, as well the vaccines authorized for use against this pandemic. We are collecting the necessary information, including from the local vaccination center, to assess these reports."