UNC Friday Center continues COVID-19 vaccine doses but pauses for 2nd time on J&J shots

Orange County News

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (WNCN) — UNC-Chapel Hill’s Friday Center was busy Tuesday with a steady flow of patients coming and going to receive their COVID-19 vaccine.

Marvin Hood was one of them.

“I wasn’t worried or anything. I just came in and got it done,” said Hood as he left the Friday Center

This is the second time in few days vaccine clinics in the Triangle took a time out from the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

The first time was on Friday and it was due to patients who were having immediate side effects like fainting. This time the problem, while only found a few women, is more serious.

The CDC is investigating six reports of blood clots from across the county in women ages 18 to 48. One has died, and a second is hospitalized

People who showed up Tuesday said they understood why the CDC and FDA recommended a brief break on the J&J vaccine but wondered if it will turn people away from all vaccines.

“I’m afraid of that,” said Karen Mitchell. “I think it’s really important that as many people get vaccinated.”

The Friday Center administered 11 ,400 doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

“The concern is for folks who got the vaccine in the last two to three weeks,” explained Dr. David Wohl, UNC Professor of Medicine.

According to the FDA and CDC the blood clot side effects happened six to 13 days after the women received their vaccination.

Dr. Wohl said 5,500 UNC patients fall into that category.

“That’s the group we are paying more attention to,” he said.

Duke gave out just under 12,000 doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine and still has some left. Dr. Cameron Wolfe with Duke Health System said they will keep the remaining doses stored until the investigation into the latest side effects is complete.

“This is in fact the recognition that we are picking up safety signals and we’re looking at them,” said Wolfe. “Is the optics of that happening in the span of a week make it challenging? Yes,” Wolfe answered.

“I think none of us can really say with certainty or confidence how much of a side effect that we are willing to tolerate for a really good vaccine,” said Wohl.

“J&J may end up being a safe vaccine, except that there is some number, a slight fraction, who could have a serious side effect,” he added.

UNC already made many changes to better address people who have immediate mild side effects at its vaccine clinics, such as additional screening questions and a separate observation area.

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