Apr 13, 2021

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine COVID-19 Press Conference Transcript April 13: Pause on Johnson & Johnson Vaccine

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine COVID-19 Press Conference Transcript April 13: Pause on Johnson & Johnson Vaccine
RevBlogTranscriptsCOVID-19 Briefing & Press Conference TranscriptsOhio Gov. Mike DeWine COVID-19 Press Conference Transcript April 13: Pause on Johnson & Johnson Vaccine

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine held a press conference on April 13, 2021 to provide updates on coronavirus and vaccine distribution. He announced a “temporary pause in the administering” of Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine. Read the transcript of the briefing speech here.

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Governor DeWine: (00:06)
Based on the recommendations from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration, this morning after consulting with the Ohio Department of Health Director, Stephanie McLeod, as well as Chief Medical Officer, Bruce Vanderhoff, I announced a temporary pause in the administering of Johnson & Johnson’s COVID 19 vaccination here in Ohio. Later on a call with the White House, later this morning, we learned some additional facts. We were told that the pause was to help the health community recognize any adverse events related to the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, also to report any adverse events and to manage those events.

Governor DeWine: (00:59)
So recognize, report and manage were the reasons given. Further, they told us the following. The adverse reactions that they have been seeing are very rare. They have six known cases among 6.8 million Americans who have received this type of a vaccine. These cases have occurred in women between 18 and 48 and their reactions are rare reactions. Severe blood clots have occurred within a period of 6 to 13 days after receiving the vaccine. Dr. Vanderhoff will have more details. Since the beginning of the vaccination distribution process here in Ohio, 264,311 Johnson & Johnson vaccines have been administered. The CDC and the FDA say the pause in administration of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine will be short. They describe it on the White House call this morning as days to weeks, rather than weeks to months.

Governor DeWine: (02:21)
We know that during this pause, Ohioans should continue to be vaccinated. Several doctors have said the vaccination you want is the vaccination that you can get now. Those that you can get now, of course, are Pfizer and Moderna. Pfizer was a three week protocol. The Moderna, of course, is a four week protocol. We know that those are in fact safe. We are instructing providers who have Johnson & Johnson vaccine to store those or onto those until they receive further guidance. We have tried to work with the providers and to enable as many providers as possible to make a very quick switch over from Johnson & Johnson to Moderna or to Pfizer. For exact details, the providers will put that out and have been putting that out, but let me give a kind of a broad description of what has happened today and is happening tomorrow. For the most part, we have been allocating Johnson & Johnson to our colleges and our universities to enable the one-shot take place before the students go out around May first. Second, we have been directing the Johnson & Johnson to our mass vaccination sites. There’s been other Johnson & Johnson that has come through directed by the Federal Government to a number of pharmacies throughout the state of Ohio. Last week, our colleges and university partners began a process of vaccination. 63 public and private four year institutions received vaccinations. The good news is that many of them finished that vaccination last week. There are some, however, they did not finish it and that are now paused. Many of these colleges and universities do report that last week, any student who wanted the vaccine was in fact able to get it. The larger universities or the ones who could not complete that last week, and many of them were continuing this week, as well as in the next several weeks, that was the plan. Mass vaccination sites and colleges and university sites that are proceeding with Pfizer. These are ones I’m going to list now or ones who they have substituted Pfizer for the Johnson & Johnson. Dayton Convention Center. In Zanesville at the Genesis Healthcare System at Colony Square Mall. In Akron Public Health at the Summit County Fairgrounds. In Columbus, work that public health is doing at the fairgrounds at the Celeste Center. University of Cincinnati. Ohio University. University of Toledo and Wright State University. So all of those are continuing on with Pfizer. Sites that are substituting Moderna for the Johnson & Johnson. That would be Allen County Health Department in Lima. In Maumee, the Lucas County Rec Center. In Marietta, Memorial Health System. Ohio Northern University’s mobile clinic. And in Chillicothe at Edina. Steubenville. Excuse me.

Governor DeWine: (06:23)
I think I have lost a page, so I will come back. Let me come back to that. I want to make sure I’ve got it all correctly. Eric is handing this to me. Thank you, Eric. Yeah, Eric, I’m going to come back to that in a moment so I can finish that. I’ve asked our Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Vanderhoff, to join us today to talk about the pause. Dr. Vanderhoff, thank you for joining us. What really should Ohioans know about this pause? What’s important?

Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff: (07:22)
Well, thank you Governor. As you noted, today the CDC and the FDA recommended this pause, and it’s exclusively focused on the Johnson & Johnson vaccine so that they could further investigate rare reports of serious blood clots with low platelets that occurred in six women ranging between 18 and 48 in the days following their vaccination. Now, recalling that more than 6.8 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine have been administered in the United States, these are truly rare events. Importantly, similar events have not been associated with the more than 180 million doses of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines administered in the United States. The ACIP, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, will be convening tomorrow to review the available data and provide further guidance and advice regarding Johnson & Johnson. The bottom line is that these cases appear to be extremely rare. And the fact that the CDC and the FDA have raised concerns and pushed the pause button on the basis of these six cases should give Ohioans great confidence in not only the priority that is being placed on vaccine safety, but also the reliability and transparency of the CDCs and FDA’s safety monitoring systems, including the vaccine adverse event reporting system that we’ve mentioned repeatedly on these press conferences. Today’s announcement really shows that that system works, and works well, and reinforces our confidence in continuing to administer the mRNA vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna, vaccines which have after all gone into arms more than 180 million times.

Governor DeWine: (09:34)
Doctor, thank you very much. Also joining us is Dr. Mysheika Roberts, the City of Columbus Health Commissioner. Dr. Roberts, thank you very, very much. We’ve enjoyed working with you for the last year and appreciate your good work. We know, doctor, that these reactions are rare, but what should individuals know if they actually received the Johnson & Johnson? We’ve got people who are watching who received Johnson & Johnson, what should they know? What should they look for?

Dr. Mysheika Roberts: (10:07)
Well, thank you, Governor DeWine, and thank you for having me. Yes, we know that here in Columbus we’ve given the Johnson & Johnson vaccine to almost 8,000 individuals. And if individuals are hearing about this now and have received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, particularly if they’re within the last two to three weeks since they’ve received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, they should look for a few signs and symptoms. Those signs and symptoms would be a headache, change in their vision, shortness of breath, if they have swelling or any pain in their lower extremities, and if they’re having consistent nausea and vomiting that doesn’t seem to go away, that’s when they should call their medical provider. If they don’t have a regular medical provider, they should seek medical care at either an urgent care or an emergency room, and they should let the provider know that they have recently received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. But if they’re not having any of those symptoms, they shouldn’t worry. But if they do develop any of those symptoms, those are some of the warning indications that something could be wrong and they should seek medical care.

Governor DeWine: (11:13)
Thank you, Doctor, very much. That’s very helpful. Appreciate it. Dr. Susan Koletar with the Wexner Medical Center is also joining us today. Doctor, thank you very much for being with us. We appreciate your time. Would you be able to speak to what could be causing these reactions?

Dr. Susan Koletar: (11:35)
Well, thank you, Governor. I will speak to what my speculations are, because let me say up front that we really don’t know. The things we do know is that vaccines work. We’ve made a tremendous impact on the pandemic with the vaccine rollout and discovery so far. And as I’ve said before, I believe on one of your conferences, the vaccines are safe and the safety has been established in clinical trials. Now one might wonder why are we seeing this now? And when you have very, very rare events, literally six now out of 6.8 million, you don’t see that and may not see that in a clinical trial of 40,000. So I just wanted to make sure everyone understands that. There’s a lot of thought and work being done probably as we speak, looking at specific immune reactions or auto immune reactions that occurs and affects the platelets, which allow blood to clot.

Dr. Susan Koletar: (12:35)
And it’s an interesting and rare event where there are situations where the platelets are low, but there’s still all these clotting issues. And the clots that have been seen have been more rare than other things. So when Dr. Roberts talked about headaches, she’s really talking about very severe headaches and make people feel not well and dizzy, and maybe not thinking clearly. Some people, this is going to be a little bit confusing, I’m going to say this up front, because sometimes people get a headache after some of these vaccines so we have to be very vigilant. But I think in the interest of time, let me just say that the speculation so far is that it’s an auto-immune event that the body’s sort of attacking the platelets. There’s more to become. There’s lots of actually very elegant work being done. So hopefully in the next days we’ll learn more as the CDC and other groups continue to look at this.

Governor DeWine: (13:31)
Doctor, thank you. We appreciate it very much. And finally, Dr. Andy Thomas, Chief Medical Officer at the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center. And Doctor, Ohio State is vaccinated a large number of people at the Wexner Medical Center, certainly a large number of students. What guidance would you give students and other young people who may have received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine? Or if individuals are questioning if they should get vaccinated in the future?

Dr. Andy Thomas: (14:00)
Governor, thank you so much for having me here today and for focusing on this issue. I think the good news, as Dr. Vanderhoff laid out, both that the safety systems that the CDC and the FDA have in place have actually found six cases out of 6.8 million doses is almost by definition the needle in the haystack, and they’re doing their best to make sure that it’s safe to continue to use the vaccine. I think that the good news is we now are over 100,000 first doses at the OSU Wexner Medical Center. We found the vaccine overall to be very safe and well tolerated. Certainly some of the minor side effects that we’ve talked about on these press conferences before. But we remain very supportive of the concept that vaccination is a key critical part of working our way through this pandemic. Obviously masking and distancing are still important, avoiding large crowds where you can’t control your environment is still very important to reduce cases today. But with vaccination, we have two great alternatives in Pfizer and Moderna that are now widely available in much greater supply than one month-

Dr. Andy Thomas: (15:03)
… governor that are now widely available in much greater supply than one month or even certainly two months ago across the state. So we would highly recommend those that have J&J appointments scheduled to just talk to the vaccine provider that you’re working with and switch your appointment either to as you went through an alternate vaccine at that location, or to find another location nearby. You may have either the Moderna or the Pfizer vaccine and still move forward with getting back vaccinated. In the state now we have nearly 4 million people who’ve gotten a first dose of the Moderna or the Pfizer vaccine. And as Dr. Fauci referenced it in a press conference earlier today, as the CDC and FDA have referenced, we just aren’t seeing this side effect that is a concern with J&J with those two vaccines. So we think it’s very safe and really a critical part of our response to this pandemic.

Governor DeWine: (15:50)
Doctor, thank you. Thank you very much. You were mentioning the switchovers that are taking place. Let me just complete reading that for all of you. In Steubenville, the Jefferson County Health Department, they’re moving over from Johnson & Johnson to Moderna. So they will have Moderna. So will Mansfield the Richland County Fairgrounds. That will continue now with Moderna. And Fostoria, Seneca County Mobile clinic, they will have and do have Moderna. So we had some switching over to Pfizer, some switching over to Moderna. The following are places that are pausing for this week, pausing for this week. Ohio University’s mobile clinic, just their mobile clinic, not on campus. But their mobile clinic is pausing.

Governor DeWine: (16:47)
Youngstown, Mahoning County Public Health, Dillard’s in Southern Park Mall. They are pausing for this week. So is at the Cincinnati Cintas Center that’s run by Kroger as well as the Wilmington Air Park. That’s also run by Kroger. They are pausing for this week. Bowling Green State University is pausing. So is Miami university, Cleveland State and Youngstown State University. So those are kind of the highlights. Again, a number of the pharmacies are either switching over or pausing and you can go online and check to see which ones are doing that. Now, let’s turn to the lieutenant governor. Lieutenant governor is one of 264,000 Ohioans who received the Johnson and Johnson vaccine. I will turn it over to you, lieutenant governor.

Lt. Gov. Jon Husted: (17:37)
Thanks, governor. A lot of great medical perspective there. I will offer the personal perspective. It was nearly five weeks ago that I received the J&J vaccine. I had no complications or side effects whatsoever. We had a number of members of staff here who had the vaccine. None of them had complications or symptoms that were negative. And I think it’s good. We should have confidence in knowing that what the CDC knows they are telling us. Everybody has access to the same information today, which should build confidence that they’re being open and transparent about the vaccine. But I will tell you that based on my experience, I would recommend it to family and friends. I have absolute confidence in it. We’re talking about six cases among 6.8 million people who were vaccinated. And this is very rare. And we’re getting a lot of good advice here from the doctors that are on this news conference today, from a perspective of, hey, we just want to make sure people know this.

Lt. Gov. Jon Husted: (18:54)
That doctors know how to treat it. That people are aware of these complications so that they can make informed decisions, because we know that this will be a pause and it won’t be permanent. We’ll probably be back very soon to Johnson and Johnson. But we do know this, vaccines are safe and effective. They work. The data is very clear about that. And if we want to end the threat and inconvenience of COVID, we know that vaccinations are our way out and we should have absolute confidence in that. And continue as we are all across the state and this nation of continuing to vaccinate people with the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines that we have available. And we’ll hope that soon we’ll have an answer on Johnson and Johnson, and we’ll be able to put that back into the mix. Because I know people, they want to move on. They want to move on to the normal things that they did in life and vaccines are our way back to that way of life.

Governor DeWine: (19:59)
And governor, thank you very much. Just a final comment before we open up for questions. Even with Johnson and Johnson no longer being available this week in Ohio, there are plenty of slots open of Moderna and Pfizer. Not everywhere certainly, but if you look at the state we’ve seen in the last 10 days, a really slackening of demand. Not a huge slackening, but somewhat of a slackening. And so there are slots that are open. We would just encourage people to get vaccinated. So open up the questions. Thank you.

Speaker 1: (20:38)
Governor, first question today is from Josh Rultenberg at Spectrum News.

Josh Rultenberg: (20:41)
Hey, governor. How are you?

Governor DeWine: (20:44)
I’m good, sir.

Josh Rultenberg: (20:45)
Just a quick question about vaccine hesitancy. Obviously there was a huge hesitancy beforehand. And now with this news today, how much more are you worried about people not getting the vaccine after something like this?

Governor DeWine: (21:01)
Well, I think the important thing is to get the facts out. With Johnson and Johnson, this was six known faces out of 6 million. And I’m not minimizing that at all. And we’re going to see what the experts decide to do. But in regard to Moderna and Pfizer, all evidence is that these are very, very strong. These are very, very effective, and these are very, very safe. So I don’t know if any of our doctors on our panel want to jump in. I still see some of them up on the screen. If any of you want to take that question?

Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff: (21:36)
Governor, I’ll be happy to start. First let me say that myself as someone who’s received a vaccine, the son of parents who’s gotten the vaccine and the father of children who’ve received the vaccine, I continue to be absolutely confident in the safety of these vaccines. And frankly, I see this move today as one of great transparency in the process that medical scientists go through with any vaccine or any drug to understand any potential side effects, adverse effects, et cetera, and to safely determine how they should be dealt with and or who should avoid that medication or vaccine because of perhaps an increased risk they might have to it.

Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff: (22:35)
So I think that it’s understandable to me that there could be some vaccine hesitancy, but really, I think that for those whose hesitancy is built off of fear regarding the safety and the safety practices, this should be reassuring. That the scientific and medical community is really on this and watching very closely to assure that what people are receiving is in fact safe. And if I might, governor, I know Dr. Koletar as an infectious disease expert might have some useful perspective on this as well.

Governor DeWine: (23:16)
Doctor.

Dr. Susan Koletar: (23:18)
Thank you. I think I would echo what you just said, knowledge is power. And governor, you asked me what’s causing this and I replied that I don’t know, because I don’t know specifically. But as more and more work is being done to try to understand the cause that will allow us the opportunity to identify people who may be at risk, even if it is one in a million. And I think that’s the key factor here. That as we continue to grow knowledge and we can inform people, then that should help them make informed decisions about their risks. And I’m a big believer that knowledge is power. So I think that is our best way to continue to address vaccine hesitancy and being transparent is clearly the key.

Governor DeWine: (24:05)
Thank you, doctor.

Speaker 1: (24:07)
Next question is from Laura Hancock at Cleveland.com.

Laura Hancock: (24:11)
Governor, would you consider extending the mass vaccination site, the Wolstein Center in Cleveland beyond the eight weeks so they could instead give more of the two shot vaccine instead of Johnson and Johnson?

Governor DeWine: (24:26)
We’ve made no decision on that. We’re going to look at everything as we do every single week in determining where the demand is, where we need to put the vaccinations, where we need to put the vaccine. So certainly nothing is off the table at all. And we’ll see based upon what the demand is. Again, we’re going to have to see what happens in regard to Johnson and Johnson. We don’t know that yet. As you know, at the Wolstein Center we’re now into second shots and we’re into that cycle and that cycle will continue on for the next several weeks.

Speaker 1: (25:05)
Next question is from Luis Gil at Ohio Latino Television.

Luis Gil: (25:11)
Hello governor, can you hear me?

Governor DeWine: (25:13)
I can.

Luis Gil: (25:15)
Thank you, governor. Nice to see you last night at [inaudible 00:25:21]. It was a very nice reception. Governor, this question could be for you or for Dr. Vanderhoff or for Dr. Thomas. The people that have received the vaccine from Johnson and Johnson, are you going to keep track of them in a different way so if anything happens to them, what to look for, what to feel? Like doctor [inaudible 00:25:51] said, keep in track with them. What will be any precautions that they can take right now while they’re waiting for symptom or they’re waiting for news or waiting for more information at this point?

Governor DeWine: (26:09)
Dr. Vanderhoff, you want to take that?

Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff: (26:13)
Yes, sir. I’m happy to. So the importance of this pause is that in fact, what the CDC and FDA are doing is first making patients aware that this is going to be very rare. If it is going to occur, it will be within the first two to three weeks after they have received the vaccine. And they would be looking for the kind of fairly severe symptoms that were very well outlined by Dr. Roberts, including severe headache, severe abdominal pain, swelling, or pain in the extremities. And that the vast majority of people who received this vaccine will never develop those symptoms. But if you do, now providers are well aware of what to look for. And hopefully patients who’ve received this are well aware of what to look for. And so the special attention that is being given really is that awareness that enlists all of us as a collective team to look for the signs and symptoms.

Dr. Andy Thomas: (27:23)
I can cover a little bit also, Bruce. What we’re doing at Ohio State, we’ve had just over 1100 individuals get the J&J vaccine. We actually, it should be going on as we speak, we approved language over the noon hour that will be going on as my chart and email messages to patients that would alert them to what the symptoms are. When they are in getting their vaccine, they’re given information about our vaccine hotline that they’re to call if they have any side effects or problems. It’s reemphasized in there in terms of both symptoms to look for and what to do if you have those symptoms. But as Dr. Vanderhoff has said, at a one in a million number, I think having 1100 patients, we’re probably aren’t going to have anyone with that side effect, but we certainly are doing our best as I think most vaccine providers are of making sure that people are educated about this.

Dr. Andy Thomas: (28:13)
And obviously it’s kind of why we’re all here today is to make sure that you all with your voices in the media are able to share the facts about this to be transparent with people, but not be overly alarming given the rates. If you think about people with COVID, especially people that are admitted to the hospital, it’s closer to one out of every six of them develop a blood clot. We’re talking one out of a million developing this one type of a serious blood clot from the vaccine. So in terms of the relative risk, it’s very low. At the same time for those patients who have had this and we know one has passed away, it’s incredibly, I’m sure, I both very sad for the families as well as a difficult situation for them. So we do want to be transparent and clear with patients.

Dr. Susan Koletar: (28:57)
And may I emphasize again, that it’s these events have all been within a couple of weeks. So if you got your vaccine a couple months ago, probably safe to say that this is not going to happen.

Governor DeWine: (29:13)
Thank you.

Dr. Mysheika Roberts: (29:14)
I would just add, governor, that individuals who have received the J&J vaccine, the vaccine is that factor. So they don’t need to worry about getting another vaccine from another manufacturer. And like Dr. Thomas said, we are also actively working with the 8,000 cases that are individuals we have vaccinated with J&J to inform them of this finding and to give them advice of what they should do if they develop these symptoms, particularly if they’ve received the J&J vaccine in the last three weeks.

Governor DeWine: (29:43)
Thank you. Thanks doctors.

Speaker 1: (29:45)
Next question is from Chelsea Sick at WKEF in Dayton.

Chelsea Sick: (29:49)
Hey, Governor DeWine.

Governor DeWine: (29:50)
Hey, Chelsea.

Chelsea Sick: (29:53)
It looks like we know the goal was to get college students vaccinated before they went home for summer. But how does this pause impact that plan with students having to get the two doses? What’s your message to those students who may-

Dr. Susan Koletar: (30:03)
… And with students having to get the two doses. What’s your message to those students who may feel on edge about getting both doses in before the end of the semester?

Governor DeWine: (30:07)
Well, I certainly encourage any college student to be vaccinated. There’s opportunities out there with Pfizer and Moderna. And the good news is we achieved most of what we wanted to achieve already in regard to our college students, making that available to any college student who wanted. We have a ways to go. You can see that some of the universities have been able to switch over. Others are on pause and we’ll be reevaluating in the next few days.

Governor DeWine: (30:41)
But our goal was to try to get them vaccinated before they left campus. Some of them may now have to get this vaccination on their own and give it maybe off campus. They could do that now or they could do it when they leave campus. So not exactly what we wanted, but we’ve accomplished a lot. And we’ve gotten a lot of college students vaccinated and some are continuing to be vaccinated. And we’ll see what happens in the next few days.

Speaker 2: (31:09)
Next question is from Farnoush Amiri at the Associated Press.

Farnoush Amiri: (31:16)
Hey Governor, my question is does your office have an idea of how many Johnson & Johnson doses in the state are in limbo because of the decision that was made this morning? And that’s whether they already had it like pharmacies or vaccination centers already had it in hand, or the ones that they anticipated to receive this week.

Governor DeWine: (31:39)
So was the question do we know how many are now out somewhere in Ohio with a provider on hold? Is that the question?

Farnoush Amiri: (31:48)
Yes, yes.

Governor DeWine: (31:49)
Our office I’m sure I can get that figure at least in regard to all the ones that we are tracking. So I think we can get that for you, but I don’t have it. I don’t have it right now.

Farnoush Amiri: (32:03)
Thank you.

Speaker 2: (32:05)
Next question is from Jo Ingles at Ohio Public Radio and Television.

Jo Ingles: (32:10)
Hello Governor, how are you?

Governor DeWine: (32:13)
Good.

Jo Ingles: (32:14)
I would like to know, we have people who are going from Columbus to small towns to get vaccinated in different places. Is there any way for us to know who’s getting vaccinated and leaving their home area to do it? Are you tracking that?

Governor DeWine: (32:35)
Well, we’re certainly seeing it, Jo, anecdotally and it’s been reported in the news media. It’s also being reported as Fran and I have gone around. Anecdotally, we’ve gone around to 33 sites. That’s one of the questions we always ask, where are the people coming from? And there’s certainly has been some people who have been coming out of urban areas to go to more rural areas. And as we announced last week and the week before, we are moving vaccines every time that we make the allocation, which is once a week that we send in the shipping, what I call a shipping order to the federal government. We are making those, those adjustments.

Governor DeWine: (33:16)
We had last week, for example, some of our health departments told us, “Don’t send us any this week” and it’s been diverted other places. So that will continue. When we started, we were going strictly by a population formula. But now At this stage, it’s clear what we need to do and we have done is we use that as a baseline, but we’ll vary that depending on where the demand is. We will go where the demand is. We’re already going where the demand is. So we will continue to do that.

Jo Ingles: (33:52)
Do you have any idea how many people have gone out of their area though to get a vaccine?

Governor DeWine: (33:58)
I don’t think we track that. I can find that out. I mean, as you know the way they’re recorded is to make it clear. If I’m in Green County and I go and get vaccinated in Clark County, it gets recorded as a Green County resident on the data. So whether or not we can tell you what percentage or out of county, I don’t know that, but we can check on that.

Jo Ingles: (34:27)
Thank you.

Governor DeWine: (34:28)
Our goal has been to know how’s each county doing? And that’s very valuable information. And by how each county is doing, what we simply mean is not how the health department is doing or anybody is doing, but rather what percentage of that population in that county is getting vaccinated. And so, again, that is another way for us to look at where we have a problem and then try to figure out if there’s something that we can do about that. So that piece of information can be helpful.

Speaker 2: (35:00)
Next question is from Jackie Borchardt at the Cincinnati Enquirer.

Jackie Borchardt: (35:05)
Good afternoon. We’ve had Johnson & Johnson vaccine since the first week of March. Why do you think we’re starting to see those blood clot side effects come up now?

Governor DeWine: (35:19)
I’ll refer that to the doctors. Anyone want to take that?

Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff: (35:22)
Yeah. Governor, I’ll start up with that. I think it’s largely because of its rarity. And I think that Dr. Koletar referenced this. These vaccines were thoroughly evaluated compared to previous vaccine development in terms of the total number of people in the trials, unprecedented numbers of people in the clinical trials.

Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff: (35:46)
But when you’re looking at reports that are essentially less frequent than one in a million, it may take some time before one can reasonably identify such rare events. I think that it’s actually a tribute to the VAERS system that even this early in the vaccine rollout we’ve identified these potential issues of concern. Dr. Koletar, would you add anything to that?

Dr. Susan Koletar: (36:19)
Thanks, Bruce. I think that’s exactly right. As I said, that the trial that got the J&J vaccine emergency use authorization had 44,000 people on it. So if you’re talking six out of 6.8 million, it’s not unusual I think if you have zero out of 44,000. I think it’s really just, again, attributed to the system reporting of adverse events. And attributed to doctors and practitioners out there who are giving these vaccines to recognize these and make sure that they’re reported.

Governor DeWine: (36:50)
Thank you.

Speaker 2: (36:51)
Next question is from Nathan Hart at WCPO in Cincinnati.

Nathan Hart: (36:56)
Hi, Governor. Now that a lot of college students might have to arrange their own vaccines independent of a university or a drive, do you have any plans or initiatives to try to convince young people to get the vaccine this summer?

Governor DeWine: (37:08)
Yes, we do. We have some specific advertising in regard to that. But I think one of the untold stories, and again, we have found this as we have gone around to the sites. And as I have talked to people administering these at colleges and universities and as I’ve talked to college presidents, there is a big number of college students that already had been vaccinated.

Governor DeWine: (37:34)
We were frankly surprised or at least I was surprised by that number. I don’t have the exact number, but I know that Dr. Thomas, you were, I think the first to tell me that, what you were seeing at Ohio State. I don’t know if you want to add anything to that.

Dr. Andy Thomas: (37:50)
I’d be happy to, Governor. Thinking about the dates when folks under age 40 became eligible, it was just two weeks ago yesterday on March 29th that individuals between 16 and 40 became eligible. I know at Ohio State, we’re actually quite proud. Over a third of our students have already either received their first dose of vaccine or are signed up to receive their first dose of vaccine just in the first two weeks. And as you all know, we’re quite a large campus.

Dr. Andy Thomas: (38:16)
I think as the Governor and I were discussing last week, when he came to visit our site, we knew we were going to have a very difficult time getting our entire campus vaccinated before the end of the month, which is when our semester ends. We also know frankly that our target is really fall semester because given people graduating and new students coming in, we have a big communication effort to high school seniors that are going to be first-year students on our campuses starting in August that between now and August is the time that they need to be getting vaccinated.

Dr. Andy Thomas: (38:50)
And of course really at 16 through 18, oftentimes maybe only eligible for Pfizer. So we do a really want to strongly recommend for those incoming college students not just around the state, but for those going to school out-of-state that this summer is a really critical time for you to get that vaccine, get fully protected before you show up on campus in the fall. But because of our size, really that’s been our target for the most part. We certainly wanted to try and capture as many people as possible before they left campus this semester, but that was never really fully our goal to be completely done.

Governor DeWine: (39:22)
And let me just add something to what Dr. Thomas said. He mentioned high school students who are graduating will be starting at Ohio State and other universities. We had a very good call this morning, Lieutenant Governor and I did with school K-12 superintendents, as well as athletic directors to really talk to them about what our plan is to encourage them to be in contact with providers, encourage to be in contact with their local health department in regard to getting students vaccinated in school.

Governor DeWine: (39:58)
We’ve already seen a number of our high schools that have done that. And I just want to thank them for doing that again. This is an effort to increase the vaccinations just as quickly as we can among the younger group of Ohioans. Thank you, Dr. Thomas.

Speaker 2: (40:17)
Next question is from Justin Dennis at mahoningmatters.com.

Justin Dennis: (40:22)
Good afternoon, Governor. Thank you for addressing this. Could you explain why some local health departments got two- shot vaccines while others are having to delay? What affected that process? And also relatively, are there more doses of the Moderna or Pfizer vaccines that are ready to send out right now or in the next week?

Governor DeWine: (40:42)
The last question is what? I’m sorry. Say that again.

Justin Dennis: (40:46)
Are there any more two-shot doses that could be sent out now or within the next week for upcoming clinics?

Governor DeWine: (40:53)
Well, we’re moving them around for next week and there’s some movement that was made this morning. So yes, we’re going to continue to adjust that and move those around. So yes, there’s an opportunity to do that. As far as when you have now 1400 and some providers, we get the allocation on Tuesday, we know the numbers on Tuesday, and then we start figuring out where they’re going to go. And it depends on what departments, for example, or what providers what they’ve used up before. If they tell us, “Look, stop” and we stop there. So it’s a balancing every single week.

Governor DeWine: (41:38)
Now we made big policy decisions. A big policy decision was we’re going to take the bulk of our Johnson & Johnson towards college students in mass vaccination sites. And we also though were holding some of the Johnson & Johnson back in regard to special needs for example. If a health department was going out this week and vaccinating a group of people, for example, homeless that it might make sense to do one shot because they might not be there three weeks from then. So we tried to accommodate those needs.

Governor DeWine: (42:21)
The other thing that has occurred is that the federal government, we started this going right to pharmacies. What has happened is at some point the federal government kicked in with pharmacies directly, and then they continue to expand in pharmacies, which was great. But as they did that, then we took those doses and put them someplace else knowing the pharmacies were covered, while the Johnson & Johnson is coming directly from the federal government into local pharmacies.

Governor DeWine: (42:49)
So that’s why you’re seeing that. Some of the pharmacies that we might be providing might be on a two-dose regiment, but the federal government was taking a big chunk of the Johnson & Johnson and they were putting it out directly. And that’s why you’ll see a difference between one pharmacy and other pharmacies.

Speaker 2: (43:10)
Next question is from Kevin Landers at WBNS in Columbus.

Kevin Landers: (43:14)
Good afternoon. My question is for the doctors on the panel. Is there any evidence that the issue with J&J is causal versus coincidental? Why is it impacting women and not men? And if it’s such a statistical anomaly, why do you think this pause was warranted? Thank you.

Governor DeWine: (43:33)
Dr. Koletar, you want to start with that?

Dr. Susan Koletar: (43:38)
Sure. So thank you. That is the million dollar question. Is this causal versus coincidence? And again, everyone is looking at that closely. You may be alluding to some similar findings that have been seen with the AstraZeneca vaccine in Europe. Again, is it causal or coincidental? My comments earlier about the autoimmune effects on platelets and function seem to be similar in that as well.

Dr. Susan Koletar: (44:09)
There was just a recent publication last week in the New England Journal article. So I think, again, the honest answer is we don’t know specifically, but I think the AstraZeneca vaccine issues that have been reported and the severity of these particularly rare events is really what has made people take notice. Is it cause? We can’t say that yet, but I think it’s certainly warranted. And again, speaks to the importance of safety monitoring of all these vaccines.

Kevin Landers: (44:48)
Do you why it’s happening more to women than men?

Dr. Susan Koletar: (44:52)
Also a good question. There’s been speculation about other things, particularly since they seem to be younger women? Is it related? Are there some hormonal bases? Are there other things that happen-

Dr. Susan Koletar: (45:03)
… Are there some hormonal bases, are there other things that happen? I can tell you that all of those factors are being looked at, and as soon as we know the answers, I’ll be happy to share them with anybody.

Speaker 3: (45:14)
Next question is from Tom Bosco with WSYX in Columbus.

Tom Bosco: (45:18)
Hi, governor. With the cases ticking upward, it would seem like this would be a bad time for there to be a pause in giving any vaccines right now. Are you anticipating or preparing that we will see numbers reflected as we go forward here, by this pause? I mean, in other words, do you think we’re going to see cases go up even more because of taking a pause, and whether that’s because the vaccines are paused or whether that’s because the people who should be getting them are taking a pause, worried about the vaccines?

Governor DeWine: (45:54)
Well, the vaccine is our ticket to a good spring. The vaccine is our ticket to a good summer. The vaccine is the ticket to getting out of this pandemic. It is how we are going to achieve that. So anytime that there is a slackening of any doses, that is obviously concerning, but Johnson and Johnson has, you know, the bulk of the vaccinations have come from the two other companies, Moderna and Pfizer. So we are going to continue to push those out as quickly as we can. We urge people to get the vaccination, and we’ll see what the experts tell us in regard to Johnson and Johnson. So it’s not something that we wanted to see, but it is, as Dr. Vanderhoff said, the professionals doing their job. We respect that, want them to do that. I think we would be upset if they did not do that. So it is what it is, and we will continue to move forward.

Governor DeWine: (46:54)
But there are slots out there for people today and this week. We urge them to get vaccinated. This is the time to get vaccinated. And that’s how we get out of this. That’s how we get a better summer, a better spring. That’s how we do all the things that we want to do, whether it’s to see our grandchildren or go to a baseball game. Whatever it is you love to do, getting the vaccine allows you to do that.

Dr. Andy Thomas: (47:20)
Governor, if I could add something, first I’ll say we do have vaccine appointments open at the Schottenstein Center this week with our Pfizer vaccine, through the middle of next week. But really, I think, Tom, to step back for a second and look at the vaccine data for the state, we now, as of last week, are over 70% of all of those over age 65 in the state are vaccinated. When you think we just started vaccinating the elderly population, certainly folks in nursing homes in December, but really the bulk of the older population in January, it’s really an amazing feat to think in three months we vaccinated over 70% of those over age 65 in the state. And those are certainly the people at highest risk of severe disease and certainly at risk for mortality or hospitalization.

Dr. Andy Thomas: (48:05)
I think we’ve been saying for weeks, whether it’s with the press or legislators or on these sorts of events, that we’ve all known that 20, 30, and 40 somethings, they’re going to be harder to inspire to go out and roll up their sleeve and get vaccinated. But I think it’s now going to be more important than ever just to reassure people that the vaccines that are available are safe. The appointments are available now because the supply is higher. So there are more appointments in the state each week. So we really still encourage people strongly to go out and take advantage of the vaccine that we have available.

Governor DeWine: (48:38)
And Dr. Thomas, again, you have slots open this week?

Dr. Andy Thomas: (48:43)
We do, we do, slots starting tomorrow through next Tuesday we currently have a schedule open for. It’s hundreds of spots that are open over the next week.

Governor DeWine: (48:52)
And that is true in other places around the state. So we encourage people, now’s the time.

Dr. Andy Thomas: (48:59)
And it has not been the case, if you would have asked me that two weeks ago, that was not the case. It’s just, we have more vaccine available now. And frankly, we’re down to, even though it’s a larger group of individuals, it’s just not the same demand as when we were at 70 and 75 year olds.

Governor DeWine: (49:13)
Well, and 35% of the population’s already been vaccinated, at least the first dose. So there’s fewer of us to get vaccinated.

Dr. Andy Thomas: (49:23)
And actually, if you take out those that are zero to 19, it’s in the high forties. It’s a pretty impressive number in a short period of time.

Speaker 3: (49:31)
Next question is from Trevor Peters at WXIX in Cincinnati.

Trevor Peters: (49:36)
Hi, governor. The past few months, the state has promoted three safe and effective vaccines and told people to get the first one available to them. Going forward, will you keep promoting J&J with this new information today, or are you recommending people choose Pfizer or Moderna?

Governor DeWine: (49:52)
We’re going to go with what the experts tell us. Throughout this pandemic, we’ve gone with the best advice that we can find. We’re going to be anxious, just like everyone else in the country, to see what comes back. We respected the pause. We paused it in Ohio within an hour after the decision came out at 7:00 AM this morning, and we’re going to follow the guidance that the experts give us.

Speaker 3: (50:19)
Next question is from Adrienne Robbins, WCMH in Columbus.

Adrienne Robbins: (50:23)
Hi, governor. I believe my question would probably be for Dr. Vanderhoff. Over the next few days or weeks, once the FDA and CDC, or if the FDA and CDC comes out and says that the Johnson and Johnson vaccine is safe, how quickly will the state take back this pause and how quickly could we see these vaccines back on the market here in Ohio?

Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff: (50:45)
Well, we’re staying in very active communication with the federal authorities, and we’ll be closely monitoring the proceedings of the ACIP. So I think in the state of Ohio, we are well-poised to act synchronously with the recommendations that come from the ACIP and the CDC. So I would not anticipate a long pause.

Speaker 3: (51:11)
Next question is from Mike Livingston at Gongwer News Service.

Mike Livingston: (51:15)
Hi, governor. I think that last part may have answered my question, but I was wondering, how long can you store these vaccines? And if the pause does extend, at what point, if at all, does that become a concern? Thanks.

Governor DeWine: (51:28)
Dr. Vanderhoff, do you want to take that, or Dr. Thomas?

Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff: (51:32)
Yeah, I’ll go ahead and defer to Dr. Thomas on that. He runs a large vaccine center.

Governor DeWine: (51:38)
Okay.

Dr. Andy Thomas: (51:38)
I think, and actually Dr. Roberts has as much J&J or more than I do, but this should not be a problem for the amount of doses that we have and the storage that we have in place. I don’t know if Dr. Roberts, if you want to come in on that.

Dr. Mysheika Roberts: (51:51)
So we have about 7,000 doses of J&J on hand right now. And so they all expire sometime in May and June. So they’re still good. And so as long as we get the go ahead in the next few weeks, we can still use what we have in storage right now.

Governor DeWine: (52:05)
Thank you, doctor.

Speaker 3: (52:06)
Next question is from Jim Otte, at WHIO in Dayton.

Jim Otte: (52:11)
This again would be for Dr. Thomas or Dr. Vanderhoff. Could you review what the profile of those six people who’ve been adversely affected here, age ranges, where they are in the country, any other distinguishing features that might be helpful to people who are trying to figure out, could that be me?

Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff: (52:30)
Yes, I’d be happy to begin. We actually know relatively little. We know that these were six women between the ages of 18 and 48 and that they experienced their symptoms within a matter of several days to a couple weeks of receiving the vaccine. That really is the extent of what we know at this time. The ACIP will be reviewing in great detail the information that is available. Those proceedings, by the way, which will be tomorrow, are public, and so we will all have the opportunity to learn a lot about what they are reviewing and what they know.

Speaker 3: (53:19)
Next question is from Dan DeRoos at WOIO in Cleveland.

Dan DeRoos: (53:23)
Good afternoon, governor.

Governor DeWine: (53:25)
Good afternoon, Dan.

Dan DeRoos: (53:27)
Governor, I’d like your personal reaction when you heard the news today about Johnson and Johnson. You and your staff have done an immense amount of work trying to put forward facts so that people feel comfortable getting the vaccines, and this has to be seen as kind of a setback, or at least a step back, because already on social media there are the “I told you so” people who said you shouldn’t get this vaccine because of things like this. Your personal reaction when the news came out today?

Governor DeWine: (53:58)
Well, nothing should surprise us during this pandemic. We’ve had a lot of twists and turns, and a lot of things have happened. But I think that the fact that people making those decisions are following what the evidence is, and not only that, but they’re making it public, that I think is what should give people confidence in what’s going on. This is public. What’s going to happen tomorrow is public. The discussion is going to be public. So yes, it was not a good way to start the day. And I was literally walking by the TV, I think, when I caught that. And yeah, I won’t tell you what I thought, but yeah, it was not good. But look, we still have a lot of vaccine. We have the Pfizer, we have the Moderna, and we need to get it out and want people to feel confident about taking it. So it is what it is, and it will get sorted out, and we’ll move on.

Speaker 3: (55:02)
Governor, next question. It’s the last question for today, and it belongs to Tom Jackson at the Sandusky Register.

Governor DeWine: (55:08)
Hi, Tom.

Tom Jackson: (55:09)
Hi, governor. Governor, it sounds like from your call with the federal authorities today that they ultimately expect to reach the same conclusion as the Europeans did when they paused the AstraZeneca and then resumed it. Am I understanding correctly what their message was to you?

Governor DeWine: (55:32)
You know, I can’t say that, Tom. I don’t know that. I reported to you basically what they told us. I think one of the things they really wanted to do is to get the message out to providers, but to everybody in the medical community, these are the things that you need to be working [inaudible 00:55:53]. So that was certainly one of the things that they wanted to get across, but I can’t read their mind. And I think they’re going to let this, you know, they’re going to follow the process, follow the evidence. And I think that should give us all confidence.

Governor DeWine: (56:13)
Well, a little surprise press conference today. We weren’t looking for this today, but good to see everybody. And we will be back Thursday. Thank you very much.