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Richmond County Health Department halts Johnson & Johnson vaccine after FDA, CDC reccomendation following blood clot reactions


ROCKINGHAM — All Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine clinics in Richmond County have been canceled until further notice after a pause was recommended by federal health officials.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a joint statement Tuesday morning calling for the temporary halt after six cases involving severe blood clots following the vaccine were reported.

According to the statement, all patients were women between the ages of 18 and 48 and the symptoms occurred six to 13 days after the vaccination. 

“In these cases, a type of blood clot called cerebral venous sinus thrombosis (CVST) was seen in combination with low levels of blood platelets (thrombocytopenia),” health officials said in a statement. “Treatment of this specific type of blood clot is different from the treatment that might typically be administered. Usually, an anticoagulant drug called heparin is used to treat blood clots. In this setting, administration of heparin may be dangerous, and alternative treatments need to be given.”

Janet Woodcock, acting FDA commissioner, said during a joint media call Tuesday that while the blood clots are a rare reaction, vaccine safety is a top priority.

More than 6.8 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine have been administered since it was granted emergency use authorization in the U.S. in late February.

Of the six cases currently in question, health officials said one has been fatal and another patient is currently in critical condition.

The risk of developing blood clots is rare for those who received the vaccine a month ago, according to health officials. However, those who develop severe headache, abdominal pain, leg pain, or shortness of breath within three weeks after vaccination should contact their health care provider.”

Richmond County Health and Human Services Director Dr. Tommy Jarrell said Tuesday that he is not aware of any local adverse reactions.

Jarrell said Health Department staff started contacting those who were scheduled for the Johnson & Johnson vaccine on Wednesday and Thursday to inform them of the hold and offer the Moderna vaccine, which a “good number” have switched to.


The only three vaccines to receive authorization in the U.S. are those manufactured by Johnson & Johnson, Moderna and Pfizer. Unlike the latter two, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine requires one dose instead of two.

With the Johnson & Johnson shot being momentarily shelved, the only one available in Richmond County is the Moderna vaccine.

Records with the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services show that 218,690 doses of the single-shot vaccine have been administered in the state as of April 11.

This isn’t the first issue with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

Last week, a vaccination event in Raleigh was temporarily halted after 18 of the more than 2,300 who got the one-dose shot experienced symptoms. Four of those were sent to a hospital for observation and all but one was released later that night.

However, DHHS announced that the CDC “did not find any safety issues or reason for concern.”

Late last month, The New York Post reported that a Virginia man’s skin “peeled off” after developing a rash all over his body as an adverse reaction to the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

The Carolina Journal recently reported that 63% of North Carolinans were worried about side effects from the vaccines.

According to DHHS, 9,063 Richmond County residents (20.2 %) are fully vaccinated, and 11,389 (25.4%) are partially vaccinated.



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Managing Editor William R. Toler is an award-winning writer and photographer with experience in print, television and online media.