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County switches vaccines for Livingstone clinic after federal, state guidance

SALISBURY — A vaccination clinic at Livingstone College will switch from 800 Johnson & Johnson vaccines to 500 Pfizer doses after six cases across the country of blood clots in women.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as well as the Food and Drug Administration on Tuesday said they were investigating clots in veins that drain blood from the brain that occurred six to 13 days after the Johnson & Johnson vaccination and in conjunction with low platelets — the fragments in blood that normally form clots. All six cases were in women between 18 and 48; there was one death and all remained under investigation.

More than 6.8 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine have been given across the country with no or mild side effects in the vast majority.

After the two federal agencies recommended a pause, the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services followed suit. None of the blood clots occurred in North Carolina.

“Our primary concern is the health and safety of all North Carolinians,” the state agency said in a statement. “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. 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.”

The Rowan Health Department had planned to administer 800 doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine Saturday for Livingstone College students, staff and members of the public. A county government news release said it moved to switch vaccine brands because of the nationwide guidance.

“As we go forward, we continue to strongly support and thank Livingstone College for their help in getting as many people in our community vaccinated as possible; but at the same time, we want to make sure we keep our community as healthy as we can,” the county said in its news release.

The Pfizer vaccine can be administered to anyone 16 and older and requires a second dose for full protection. The second dose clinic for those vaccinated at Livingstone is tentatively scheduled for Saturday, May 8.

People can call 980-432-1800 and choose option No. 1 to make an appointment for their first dose at Saturday’s Livingstone College event or visit rowancountync.gov/1671/First-Dose-Clinics. Walks-ins will also be accepted.

People will need to call 980-432-1800 or scan a QR code they’ll receive Saturday to schedule a time for a second appointment.

The Rowan County Health Department also will administer 400 doses of the Pfizer vaccine Thursday evening during a drive-thru clinic at West End Plaza. People can also sign up for Thursday’s clinic by visiting rowancountync.gov/1671/First-Dose-Clinics.

In a news conference Tuesday afternoon, state health officials stressed the pause in Johnson & Johnson vaccines represents an example of a safety system working and that the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines are OK for continued use. The clots, Health and Human Services Secretary Mandy Cohen said, are one-in-a-million-type reactions (six of more than 6 million).

The pause occurred, Cohen said, because the clots seen in the U.S. are “a very rare clot that needs a different kind of treatment.” The pause allows health officials to investigate vaccinations for any cases not yet identified and make sure medical providers know the appropriate treatment for the clots.

People who received a Johnson & Johnson shot in the previous three weeks without experiencing any adverse symptoms don’t need to worry, Cohen said. If people feel a severe headache, abdominal pain and leg pain three days after receiving a Johnson & Johnson vaccine, the person should contact their health care provider, she said.

The Associated Press contributed to this article.



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