Medical student, 21, died a day after getting J&J vaccine leaving family devastated as officials open an investigation into his death


  • John Foley, 21, a pre-med student at the University of Cincinnati in Ohio received the Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccine on Saturday
  • He was discovered by his roommates on Sunday and was pronounced dead 
  • The Ohio Department of Health and the Hamilton County Coroner’s Office are awaiting medical records and test results before determining cause of death
  • It comes after Brad Malagarie, of St. Martin, Mississippi, suffered a stroke caused by a blood clot in his brain within four hours of getting the one-dose shot 
  • There is no current evidence that the vaccine is responsible for Foley’s death or Malagarie’s stroke  
  • The CDC and FDA recommended a pause in the rollout of J&J’s vaccine, after nine people developed blood clots after receiving it, including one who died 

Officials are investigating the death of a University of Cincinnati student one day after he received Johnson & Johnson’s one-dose COVID-19 vaccine. 

John Foley, 21, a pre-med junior, passed away on Sunday. His body was discovered shortly afterwards by his college roommates, reported FOX 19.

The Ohio Department of Health and the Hamilton County Coroner’s Office are awaiting medical records and test results before determining the cause of death.

It comes as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced on Tuesday they were recommending a pause of the shot after six women developed rare, but serious, blood clots out of 7.2 million vaccinations. 

The figure of six was later updated to include nine people, including two people during clinical trials and seven after the vaccine was approved for emergency use, including one person who died.

Hamilton County Coroner Lakshmi Sammarco told reporters on Friday afternoon that a preliminary autopsy report indicated his cause of death might have been a heart or breathing issue, not a blood clot. 

‘By preliminary autopsy findings, we don’t see a direct connection between the two,’ Sammarco said, according to WLWT.

‘There’s some misinformation about clots or pulmonary embolism, and again on autopsy, we did not find any evidence of that. 

Foley received the shot on Saturday morning, when he began feeling ill. He never woke up and passed away in his sleep. 

According to his parents, Mary Beth and Michael, Foley was a National Honor Society member who made the Dean’s List every semester. 

‘Our beloved son John Francis Foley is gone, and our family mourns the loss of this wonderful and sweet joy of our lives,’ a statement from his parents, released by their attorney, reads in part.

‘While the facts remain unclear on how he died, we are rejoicing in how he lived: caring for others, lit with God’s grace, and generous to all.

‘We know the doctors involved are doing their best. We must be patient, and we ask everyone else to be patient, too. John was going to be a doctor, so this is what he would want.’  

News of his death comes after a 43-year-old father-of-seven was reportedly left partially paralyzed after receiving the shot.   

Brad Malagarie, of St. Martin, Mississippi, suffered a stroke caused by a blood clot in his left middle cerebral artery in his brain within four hours of being inoculated with the one-dose shot, his family claimed in a Facebook donation page set up to help pay for his recovery.   

All previous reports of blood clots occurred between six and 13 days after receiving the one-dose shot compared to Malgarie, who suffered the clot just a few hours later. 

After delaying a vote on Wednesday, the CDC’s advisory committee is set to meet again on April 23 to recommend whether or not lift the pause on J&J’s vaccine.

There is no evidence the vaccine caused Malagarie’s clot, but his family told WLOX they are convinced the shot is to blame.

The 43-year-old received the COVID-19 vaccine around midday on April 6 and returned to his office.

A few hours later, his coworkers noticed he was slumped unresponsive at his desk and he was rushed to hospital, the outlet reported.  

Doctors diagnosed him with a stroke caused by the blood clot in his brain.

Celeste Foster O’Keefe, Malagarie’s aunt and boss, said her nephew suffered from high blood pressure but managed it with medication.

‘They called me and said he had that vaccine and something is wrong, we think it’s a stroke,’ she said.  

‘He’s a young, healthy 43-year-old, and I immediately thought it, and I said be sure to tell the doctors he took that J & J vaccine and that, to me, is what caused his stroke.’  

The father of seven, who is being treated at Ochsner Medical Center in Louisiana, has now left the ICU and is in a critical but stable condition but is still unable to talk or move the right side of his body, she said.   

‘He can’t talk now and he can’t walk. He’s paralyzed on the right side. He knows who we are and he will just cry when he sees us,’ O’Keefe said.

It is not clear yet if he will regain speech and movement but doctors have told the family it could be a long road to recovery.   

The Mississippi State Department of Health said in a statement it was ‘saddened’ to learn of Malagarie’s condition and is investigating but said it was ‘difficult, if not impossible’ to know if it is linked to the vaccine at this stage. 

‘The Mississippi State Department of Health is saddened to hear about the recent illness of Mr. Malagarie and wishes him well,’ the health department told WLOX.

‘The Agency is certainly investigating the situation. It is difficult, if not impossible, to assign a cause and effect at this time. 

‘It is important to note that strokes are not associated with this vaccine – instead a rare clotting syndrome has been identified.’

The department pointed out that the confirmed cases so far have all been in women and that reactions occurred several days after getting the shot.  

‘Further, adverse reaction has been cited between six and 13 days after the vaccine was administered,’ they said.  

Mississippi paused all administration of the J&J vaccine this week on the advice of the CDC and FDA. 

It emerged Friday that J&J had reached out to other vaccine makers to join forces in investigating the risk of blood clots, according to a report from the Wall Street Journal.  

Sources told the outlet, the pharma giant wanted to create an industry group to both look into the concerns and jointly communicate with the public.

Moderna and Pfizer – the makers of the two other vaccines available in the US – are said to have declined while AstraZeneca was happy to come on board.

AstraZeneca, which the US has not authorized but is administered in many other countries including the UK and Australia, has also seen rare reports of clots in people who have received its vaccine.

In its case, British and European regulators have stressed that the benefits of vaccination outweigh the risks. 

The CDC and FDA issued its shock advice to pause the J&J rollout Tuesday.

The same day, J&J also announced it was delaying the rollout of the vaccine in Europe, and pausing clinical trials while it investigates the possible link to blood clots.  

Of the 7.1 million people who have received the one-shot vaccine in the US and been protected from COVID-19, only six cases of blood clots have been confirmed. 

This equates to 0.00008 percent of those who received the shot.

Meanwhile, 0.27 percent of the US population suffer from Deep Vein Thrombosis – a more severe form of blood clot – every year.  

All of the cases so far involved women aged between 18 and 48 years old.   

It is not clear if the women had underlying conditions that may have caused them to be more likely to get blood clots. 

One of the woman died and another is in critical condition in the hospital in Nebraska. 

The CDC is also now investigating the death of a 45-year-old woman in Virginia who also recently had the vaccine while another possible case was reported Wednesday in a 28-year-old woman. 

The CDC said Wednesday there was no proof the vaccine causes the extremely rare blood clots but said its rollout was halted to give officials time to talk to doctors about how to treat the condition.

Some experts and doctors have called the decision to suspend the shot an ‘overreaction’ that will stunt the US’s COVID-19 recovery, with some pointing out that COVID-19 is more likely to cause blood clots than the vaccine. 

‘You’re much more likely to clot from the real COVID-19 virus, which is about 1 in 20 people hospitalized or even 1 in 100 recovering at home. 

‘That’s far more likely,’ Dr. Purvi Parikh told CNBC.

The vaccine was seen as a beacon of hope in the nation’s fight against the virus because it is administered via one shot – compared to the two doses required for the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines.  

Health officials are urging people who have received the vaccine not to panic, and to contact a doctor if they develop severe headaches, abdominal or leg pains or shortness of breath within three weeks of receiving it.