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J & J vaccine halted locally

Health officials locally are following the recommendations of their peers at the state and national levels and halting the use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine at this time.

On Tuesday, the Centers for Disease Control and the Food & Drug Administration announced they were investigating extremely rare cases of blood clots in the brain of individuals who received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine in an effort to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.

More than 6.8 million doses of the J&J vaccine have been administered in the United States with the vast majority of recipients showing no or very mild side effects.

However, there have been cases of unusual clots in six women 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.

Locally, Moderna and Pfizer are the prominent vaccines offered, and neither is impacted by the pause. Both require two separate doses roughly four weeks apart. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine requires only a single dose per recipient.

A spokesperson with the Northampton County Health Department said they only administer the Moderna vaccine.

Albemarle Regional Health Services (ARHS) just recently received doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine and had scheduled several clinics this week to administer that vaccine.

On Tuesday, ARHS canceled those Johnson and Johnson vaccine clinics scheduled for April 14-16 in Currituck, Hertford, Pasquotank, and Perquimans counties. The one in Hertford County was scheduled for Thursday at the Ahoskie Creek Amphitheater.

“Out of an abundance of caution, ARHS will not be offering the Johnson and Johnson vaccine until we learn more information,” stated ARHS Health Director R. Battle Betts Jr. “It is our top priority to ensure the health and safety of our community citizens.

“We encourage individuals to move ahead with your vaccine plans by utilizing one of the other two vaccines that are available,” Betts added.

ARHS is still accepting appointments for Moderna first dose vaccines at each of their local health departments, which include offices in Bertie, Gates and Hertford counties. Appointments will be available to residents of the eight county region who are 18 and older. Call your local health department to make an appointment to receive your first dose of the Moderna or Pfizer vaccine.

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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