RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — After having to stop distributing Johnson & Johnson vaccines at a PNC Arena clinic, Wake County health officials say they will resume distribution of the one-shot vaccine as early as Monday.
County health officials say that after reviewing findings with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services, no issues of concern were found.
Now vaccination clinics are taking a closer look at how they handle bad reactions to the vaccine.
Wake County Public Health officials said they spent time conducting interviews, reviewing vaccine handling data, and reviewing all patient records available from the 18 people who reported mild to more severe reactions after their shots.
The evaluation showed no common correlation between incidents other than they happened in the same hour and half time frame at the outdoor clinic. Of the four people who were transported to the hospital, all were treated and released.
“We take any reaction to vaccine very seriously, which is why we did our due diligence to examine yesterday’s incident and confer with our state and local partners. The total adverse reaction rate at PNC Arena was well below the expected rate for reactions, according to the J&J vaccine federal guidance. In fact, it was 1% of the total shots given that day,” Stacy Beard, Wake County Communications Manager.
At the UNC Friday Center, some patients who received the Johnson and Johnson vaccine also faced side effects. A hospital representative said it was less than 10 people who had a reaction, out of the 2200 people who received vaccines at UNC clinics over the last two days.
Dr. David Wohl, a Professor of Medicine at UNC, was there to help the patients who did have side effects, like fainting.
“Everyone I seen fainted yesterday at the Friday Center told me they have a history of fainting around needles, whether that’s a blood draw or a shot,” said Wohl.
He is attributing the reaction to younger people who are squeamish around needles and not the J&J vaccine itself.
“We have seen people faint with Moderna and Pfizer. So, I don’t think there’s anything inherent right now that we can point to in the J&J Vaccine, but I do think we have to be more careful around people who have a history of fainting,” Dr. Wohl explained.
So, they’re changing things up to better handle people who have reactions to the vaccine. UNC is working to identify people who have a history of fainting. There’s a separate observation area for those people that will have drinks and snacks.
“If you want of these people who said you know what that’s me when I get around needles, I get queasy, make sure your hydrate,” Wohl continued. “We want you to make sure that you’re drinking a lot before you get here. So, you will have a good amount of blood in your system to keep everything flowing.”
To get the new procedures in place, UNC did not give out the Johnson and Johnson vaccine on Friday. There were 350 people scheduled to get it. Instead, they received the Moderna vaccine.
Despite the brief break, health leaders made it clear, along with the CDC making it clear that the shot is safe. It was reassuring for people who showed up to get the vaccine, like Amanda Bean.
“I’m ready to go back to normal life without wearing a mask doing fun things outdoors being with friends and family. I’m so excited to be able to be vaccinated,” Bean said.
It’s a vaccine, Dr. Wohl said you’re better with it than without it. “These vaccines are safe. Covid it is horrible. People are still dying from it. It’s better to take this vaccine. We will do all the things we got to do to keep you safe,” Wohl said.