Local vaccine providers worry about hesitancy after Johnson & Johnson vaccine put on ‘pause’

Updated: Apr. 13, 2021 at 6:10 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - North and South Carolina will stop administering the single-shot Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine during a pause recommended by the U.S.

The Federal Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Tuesday they were investigating clots that occurred 6 to 13 days after vaccination. The clots occurred in veins that drain blood from the brain and occurred together with low platelets. All six cases were in women between the ages of 18 and 48; there was one death and all remained under investigation.

Now local vaccine providers worry the news of blood clots and pausing of administration could make more people hesitate to get the vaccine at all.

The owner of Oakhurst Pharmacy told WBTV News he just received his first doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine on Friday. He’s already administered dozens of the doses.

But on Tuesday, Greg Deese says he’s been answering phone calls all day from customers asking him about the vaccine being paused.

“We have the vaccine. Two boxes. 100 doses. and again, they’re on hold now until something happens,” said Greg Deese, showing where the vaccines are being stored. “Safety’s got to be first. Even if it’s just six people, it’s still six people.”

Deese says customers have been stopping to the pharmacy as well to ask what this means for them.

“What happened and what does this mean, what does this mean for me? Some people got it here yesterday. There are hesitancy and there are concerns.”

And those concerns are being felt all over the Charlotte area this week. Cody Strawn got the J&J vaccine recently after already being hesitant to get a vaccine in the first place.

“I was very nervous, I’m not going to lie to you,” he said.

He didn’t have any bad side effects but says he thinks this will affect people’s willingness to get any vaccine.

“I can see why this is going to scare a lot of people. But at the same time the virus kills a lot of people,” he said.

Health leaders say vaccines are the key to ending the pandemic.

Right now, clinics across the country are switching to only using Pfizer and Moderna but J&J isn’t being stopped completely. The CDC is reviewing the data and side effects and will eventually make a decision about its future uses.

For now, vaccine providers have been told to wait and find out.

“We’re not sending it back, we’re been told specifically to hold onto it, don’t throw it away. But to hold onto it and wait,” said Deese.

A reminder that the side effects of the severe blood clots are extremely rare. Only 6 reported cases in more than 6.8 million doses administered.

But if you recently got it and are having extreme side effects, you should seek medical attention,

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