RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – North Carolina health officials, working with the CDC, found no safety issues or reasons for concern after a handful of reactions were reported during Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccinations administered at PNC Arena on Thursday.
In a news release from the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, it was recommended that the J&J vaccine continue to be given. Still, county health officials decided to hold off on using the J&J shots during Friday’s mass vaccination event at PNC Arena, but plan to resume giving them in the near future. Those with appointments at PNC Arena on Friday will get either the Pfizer or Moderna shot.
“We have been administering J&J vaccine here in Wake County since early March, and nationally, more than 4.5 million people have received the J&J shots,” said Wake County Medical Director Dr. Kim McDonald. “Reactions are expected, but what’s important is that our patients are here with us being monitored, and medical personnel are right here in our clinics to respond to these rare events.”
UNC Health, which also paused the distribution of J&J doses on Thursday, said it plans to reassess the situation on Friday.
Duke Health said in a statement that minor side effects consistent with those reported by the manufacturer have been experienced, but it hasn’t had instances of serious side effects. As a result, Duke Health plans to continue giving the J&J vaccine.
More than 2,300 people received the vaccine Thursday at PNC Arena. Of them, 18 experienced symptoms including dizziness, nausea, fainting, and one allergic reaction. Four people were taken to the hospital for observation. Three of them have since been released, NCDHHS said.
“Lightheadedness. Dizziness. We had some individuals who complained of allergic reaction type symptoms as well and a few individuals who reported feeling nauseous and a few individuals who ended up throwing up,” said Ryan Jury, mass vaccine branch director for Wake County.
“We are still uncertain about what is normal or not normal,” Jury added.
Per the NCDHHS, the CDC is also aware of other incidents of reactions to COVID-19 vaccines that happened in Iowa, Colorado, and Georgia.
There is no greater priority than the safety and well-being of the people we serve. When we receive reports of adverse events in individuals receiving our medicines and vaccines, we collect necessary information and carefully assess the events. Reports about individuals receiving our COVID-19 vaccine and our assessment of those reports are shared with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and other appropriate health authorities. This is part of the established process to inform health authorities’ comprehensive surveillance programs that monitor the overall safety of medicines, as well the vaccines authorized for use against this pandemic.
Health officials said almost 175 million vaccine doses have been administered in the United States. The three vaccines given federal authorization — J&J, Pfizer, and Moderna — have been proven to help prevent COVID-19 and are effective in preventing hospitalization and death, the NCDHHS said.