COVID-19 update

By C. Aileen Blaine & Abigail Cloutier

Youngstown State University reported 15 new coronavirus cases for the week of April 4. Two were students living on campus and 13 were students living off campus. YSU also tested 138 students, faculty and staff through its voluntary testing program, with four coming back positive. For the week of March 28, there were 13 new cases. All were students living off-campus.

YSU canceled two vaccination clinics intended to administer the Johnson & Johnson single-dose vaccine early Tuesday morning when the Food and Drug Administration released a statement regarding concerns for potential side effects. The clinics were scheduled for April 13 and 20. 

The Youngstown City Health Department notified Youngstown State University Tuesday morning of the decision to cancel the clinics due to the uncertainty regarding the vaccine. 

Shannon Tirone, associate vice president of University Relations, said the office called students scheduled for the April 13 clinic to alert them of the cancelation. Many were grateful for the notification.

“We are going to try and reach out and see if we can get a third clinic here on campus, with either Pfizer or Moderna,” Tirone said. “We’re hopeful that we might be able to offer that.”

Tirone acknowledged that there is not enough time to offer students additional clinics with the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines before the semester is over.

“The good thing is that a majority of our students live in the local area,” Tirone said. “Whether it’s us bringing a vaccination clinic here on campus or working with other entities to make sure that the vaccine is available when students are in sessions … we’re going to do everything we can to be able to open up those possibilities for them.”

According to the FDA, 6.8 million Americans have already received the J&J vaccine as of April 12, but dose administrations across the nation are on hold until more information is available.

The FDA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said they’re reviewing data concerning six reported cases of a rare and serious type of blood clot, called cerebral venous sinus thrombosis (CVST), in J&J vaccine recipients. This particular type of blood clot requires treatment different from what might typically be administered. In typical blood clot cases, the anticoagulant drug heparin is used, but in the case of CVST, the low levels of blood platelets can make this treatment dangerous. 

Of the cases under study, six women between the ages of 18 and 48 experienced symptoms six to 13 days after receiving their vaccinations. According to the New York Times, one of these women has died and another is hospitalized. In the statement, the FDA said, “Right now, these adverse events appear to be extremely rare.”

Gov. Mike DeWine and the Ohio Department of Health advised all Ohio vaccine providers to cease J&J doses, and the ODH will continue to follow further developments.