RALEIGH, N.C. (WAVY) — North Carolina has joined several states, including Virginia, in pausing the use of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine after 6 women out of about 7 million vaccine recipients developed a rare disorder that involves blood clots.
U.S. health officials recommended the pause on Tuesday “out of an abundance of caution,” and it’s expected to last a few days as officials investigate.
“Our primary concern is the health and safety of all North Carolinians. Out of an abundance of caution, we are following the recommendations of the FDA and CDC and have paused the administration of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine until we learn more,” said North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Mandy Cohen in a statement. “The safety system in place is working as it should. If you have an appointment for Pfizer or Moderna, please go to your appointment as planned. If you have an appointment for Johnson & Johnson, your appointment will be re-scheduled.”
In a statement on social media Tuesday afternoon, North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper praised vaccines as the most important tool to ending the COVId-19 pandemic. Cooper reinforced pausing the administration of the Johnson & Johnson vaccines, but urged residents to get their shots as quickly as possible.
Johnson & Johnson shots make up less than 4 percent of of shots administered in North Carolina — about 218,690 single-shot doses out of nearly 5.9 million total shots given.
It’s important again to note this pause is due to 6 people out of about 7 million. In a joint statement Tuesday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration said the clots in 6 women occurred 6 to 13 days after vaccination. One woman died and a second woman in Nebraska has been hospitalized in critical condition, the New York Times reported.
Millions of people have taken the vaccine and the vast majority have mild or no side effects. The vaccine also provides strong protection against COVID-19, and all three vaccines in the U.S. have shown to completely prevent hospitalizations and deaths due to the virus.
The White House says there’s enough supply of Pfizer and Moderna available to keep pace at 3 million vaccinations per day, and those set to get the J&J will be rescheduled to receive Pfizer and Moderna. J&J vaccines account for less than 5% administered shots to date.
North Carolina will hold a media briefing at 2 p.m. to discuss the development.