AppHealthCare, App State join national halt in Johnson & Johnson vaccine at clinics

Medical+workers+bring+supplies+into+the+Holmes+Convocation+Center+on+Thursday+in+preparation+for+the+App+State+vaccination+rollout.

Jesse Barber

Medical workers bring supplies into the Holmes Convocation Center on Thursday in preparation for the App State vaccination rollout.

Jackie Park, Editor-in-Chief

App State and AppHealthCare will pause the use of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine at their vaccine clinics while the dose is investigated for rare blood clots.

The Food and Drug Administration and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced Tuesday that six women between the ages of 18 and 48 developed a rare disorder involving blood clots within two weeks of their dose.

App State was scheduled to administer doses of the J&J vaccine Thursday; however, Megan Hayes, chief communications officer for App State, said the university will instead distribute the Moderna vaccine. She says the university is working with the local public health department to keep the clinic on schedule.

“We are pleased to assist with North Carolina’s COVID-19 vaccination distribution plan for rural areas by administering COVID-19 vaccines, and continue to remind our students, faculty, staff and community members of the importance of vaccination as a means to returning to more normal operations, and the full return to campus for the fall 2021 semester,” Hayes wrote in an email.

AppHealthCare is also offering Moderna in place of the J&J vaccine if appointments are available.

“We will pause administering J&J while we await additional guidance from CDC and (the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services),” AppHealthCare tweeted. “We take this very seriously and will be watching carefully for additional guidance.”

NCDHHS issued a statement Tuesday confirming that the state will pause use of the vaccine while the FDA and CDC investigate.

“Our primary concern is the health and safety of all North Carolinians,” a statement from NCDHHS reads. “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.”

The department says if North Carolinians have a Moderna or Pfizer appointment, they should still go. J&J appointments will be rescheduled, the statement says.

So far, 218,690 North Carolinians have received the J&J vaccine, according to the NCDHHS vaccine dashboard. App State has administered almost 4,000 doses of the J&J vaccine since it began administering vaccines March 11, according to the most recent update from Chancellor Sheri Everts.

Representatives from the FDA and CDC will meet Wednesday to further discuss the cases, but the groups’ statement says these occurrences appear to be extremely rare – with 6 cases out of the more than 6.8 million doses distributed nationwide so far.