By Alan Gionet

COMMERCE CITY, Colo. (CBS4) – The COVID-19 vaccination clinic at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park in Commerce City was put on hold on Wednesday afternoon after 11 patients experienced adverse side effects after receiving the shot. Centura Health originally said 18 people were affected, but later corrected that number to 11 people.

The site was using the Johnson & Johnson/Janssen coronavirus vaccine.

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“We got there about 2:30, early, and then about five cars away from being next to get the shot and they stopped it,” recalled Paul Doucett, who was scheduled to receive the vaccine at the site. “There were two ambulances there. One was pulling in as we were pulling in and there was one already set up there. At least an hour-and-a-half passed before they said, ‘We’re just not comfortable with the adverse reactions, so we’ve got to reschedule you guys.'”

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment says the patients experienced symptoms like nausea and dizziness. They add there is no reason to believe other people who were vaccinated at this site should be concerned.

(credit: CBS)

“We’re committed to providing safe community clinics, and we are so grateful that the clinic today properly observed and helped patients with immediate side effects. 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. It’s why I got the vaccine, and why I’ve wanted my family to get it. Based on everything we know, it remains true that the best vaccine to get is the one you can get the soonest. Thank you to everyone who had to reschedule their appointments for their patience today.”

The site is operated by Centura Health. A spokesperson said 1,777 people received the shot, with 11 experiencing adverse reactions. Centura did not say what the symptoms were, only that they were “in line with typical reactions,” according to medical experts.

ATHENS, OHIO, UNITED STATES – 2021/03/09: Athens City-County Health Department Director of Nursing, Crystal Jones, 52, loads syringes with the vaccine on the first day of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine being made available to residents.
The Athens City-County Health Department collaborated with Ohio University to roll out the new Johnson & Johnson (COVID-19) Vaccine, which only requires one shot instead of two. (Photo by Stephen Zenner/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

“We saw a limited number of adverse reactions to the vaccine,” said Centura spokesperson Lindsay Radford. “We followed our protocols and in an abundance of caution, made the decision — in partnership with the state — to pause operations for the remainder of the day.”

Centura says nine people who experienced a reaction were monitored on site and sent home while two others were taken to the hospital for further observation.

A total of 640 patients were unable to receive their vaccine on Wednesday. Centura Health plans to reschedule those appointments for April 11 at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park.

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Doucett admits he now has some trepidation about receiving the J&J vaccine, and he’s glad his vaccination was rescheduled. He says things just stopped when he was in line.

“(They) passed out some waters and they said ‘There’s a little problem, just stand by for a minute.’ And they came back like an hour or so later and that’s when they said that there were too many adverse reactions and that they didn’t feel comfortable with it and that they would reschedule it.”

“I’m glad I didn’t get the shot and suffer some adverse reactions or anything,” he said.

But ultimately, he’ll be glad to be vaccinated.

“I’m a Marine so I’m not really worried about anything. I’ll take the shot if they say it’s good for me, if Dr. Fauci says take the shot, I’ll take the shot. I trust the science,” he said.

His wife had already received the J&J vaccine earlier in the day at the Ball Arena vaccination site in Denver and he says she’s doing great.

“This is not going to deter me at all,” he said.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the J&J/Janssen is a one-dose COVID vaccine that was 63% effective in clinical trials. Possible side effects in the arm where the shot is given include pain, redness and swelling. Other side effects in the body may include tiredness, headache, muscle pain, chills, fever and nausea. The CDC said that side effects usually start within a day or two of getting the vaccine and should go away in a few days.

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The CDPHE says there have been 10 previous reactions at community vaccine sites before this incident, according to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System. The CDC and FDA both manage the system.

Alan Gionet