By WRAL NewsRaleigh, N.C. — Several COVID-19 vaccine providers have stopped administering the Johnson & Johnson vaccine after a few adverse reactions were reported on Thursday.
Wake County spokeswoman Stacy Beard said 18 people had an adverse reaction to the vaccine at the PNC Arena clinic. More than 2,300 Johnson & Johnson vaccines were administered at the clinic on Thursday, meaning 0.78% of vaccine recipients had a reaction.
Fourteen people who had a reaction were evaluated by Wake County EMS at PNC Arena and were treated on site. Four people were taken to a local hospital to be evaluated and are expected to be released.
Symptoms like nausea, dizziness, fainting and one allergic reaction were reported by those who reported reactions.
“All individuals are monitored. If they’re concerned, we monitor them for 30 minutes. So, most indications were caught early on,” said Ryan Jury, who oversees Wake County’s vaccination efforts.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Thursday night recommended vaccinations continue at PNC Arena after health experts did not find any safety issues or reasons for concern.
In a statement, the CDC said it was aware of vaccine recipients reporting dizziness, light-headedness, feeling faint, rapid breathing and sweating after receiving the vaccine in Iowa, Colorado, Georgia and North Carolina.
Before the CDC’s announcement, county health official paused Johnson & Johnson vaccinations on Friday. The mass vaccination clinic will offer only the Pfizer two-dose vaccine on Friday.
“There are other products that we’ve been using for months, but if you look at how long we’ve been using the Johnson & Johnson product, it’s not necessarily as long. So, we’re uncertain as to what is normal, what is not normal. We’re really very much in the infancy at this time, and [we’re] just trying to evaluate what were the causes for this, is there any reason to be concerned,” said Jury.
Locations, phone numbers to get your COVID shot in central NC
“There is no greater priority than the safety and well-being of the people we serve. When we receive reports of adverse events in individuals receiving our medicines and vaccines, we collect necessary information and carefully assess the events. Reports about individuals receiving our COVID-19 vaccine and our assessment of those reports are 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,” a spokeswoman for Johnson & Johnson said in a statement about the adverse reaction to the vaccine at PNC Arena.
The Johnson & Johnson doses in Wake County will be held and stored until additional information is collected.
UNC Health spokesman Alan Wolf said the medical system was pausing administering the Johnson & Johnson vaccine at all UNC Health vaccine clinics after a small number of recipients reported feeling faint at the Friday Center on Thursday.
In a statement, UNC Health said more than 2,200 Johnson & Johnson vaccines had been administered at the Friday Center and the Hillsborough Hospital clinic. The specific number of people who had a reaction to the vaccine was not given.
Wolf said UNC Health is re-evaluating for Friday, and the pause is until officials can get a better handle on what’s going on.
Dr. David Wohl, an infectious disease specialist at UNC Health, said that, over the next couple of days, health experts will study safety reports, look at every reaction and look at ways to calm those who are nervous around the shot.
“I don’t think this is an allergic reaction. Most of the people that I’ve seen here today who have felt faint have a history of feeling faint, especially around needles. So, it’s really hard,” explained Wohl. “We’re also vaccinating different people than we did before. Often times, people take the Johnson & Johnson vaccine because they are adverse to needles and they don’t want to take a shot. We’re just trying to make sure if it’s the vaccine or the people taking the vaccine or a combination of both.”
Coronavirus vaccinations in NC
The Duke University Health System said it would continue to administer Johnson & Johnson vaccines, since adverse reactions have not been reported at its clinics.
“Duke Health received Janssen (J&J) vaccine from the same lot number identified in the Wake County vaccine clinic, but the shipment was sent directly to Duke through no intermediaries. No patients at Duke have experienced serious incidents. Minor side-effects from the vaccine have been consistent with those reported by the manufacturer prior to authorization and remain within expected rates,” said Thomas Owens, the president of Duke University Hospital and senior vice president of Duke Health, in a statement.
Of the 2.2 million people fully vaccinated against coronavirus in North Carolina, just 8% received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. That means around 167,000 people received the vaccine, or about 1.5% of the state’s population.
The number of people who’ve received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is likely to rise because the number of doses coming into the state has risen dramatically. This week, the state received nearly 150,000 doses, compared with fewer than 60,000 last week. That number was more than the number of Moderna and Pfizer vaccines that came into the state this week.