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Georgia, South Carolina follow federal experts’ lead in halting 1-dose vaccine

Published: Apr. 13, 2021 at 10:25 AM EDT|Updated: Apr. 13, 2021 at 11:55 AM EDT
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - The Georgia and South Carolina health agencies said Tuesday they have halted the use of the one-dose Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine, following the recommendations of federal experts.

The U.S. is recommending a “pause” in administration of the single-dose Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine to investigate reports of potentially dangerous blood clots.

In a joint statement Tuesday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration said they were investigating unusual clots in six women that occurred six 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.

The reports appear similar to a rare type of clotting disorder that European authorities say is possibly linked to the AstraZeneca vaccine, which is not being used in the U.S.

In Georgia

Following the guidance and recommendations of the federal officials, the Georgia Department of Public Health said it was pausing use of the vaccine in the state “until further notice.”

People who have received the vaccine and develop severe headache, abdominal pain leg pain or shortness of breath within three weeks after vaccination should contact their health care providers, the state agency said.

More than 124,000 doses of the vaccine have been administered in Georgia.

The state agency urges all health care providers to be aware of the potential for these adverse events and plan for appropriate treatment required with blood clots.

The agency and district health departments are working to provide Pfizer or Moderna vaccines for individuals with previously scheduled appointments for the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. In some cases, this may require rescheduling.

The pause in use of the vaccine comes nearly a week after the state had already paused the use of the vaccine at one site in the state after eight people suffered “adverse reactions.” The reactions occurred Wednesday at the Cumming Fairgrounds site. One person was evaluated at a hospital and released, the others were monitored at the site and sent home.

In South Carolina

On Tuesday morning, the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control placed an immediate pause on its distribution of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine and contacted vaccination providers.

In addition, the agency is in the process of rescheduling or changing planned vaccine types for events that were going to use the vaccine.

“We recognize that this will impact our current supply of vaccines across the state and are awaiting to hear more information from the federal government,” the agency said in a statement.

South Carolina, like most states, had been receiving a small amount of vaccine from the federal government — about 7,000 doses a week — compared to the more than 40,000 doses each of Pfizer and Moderna we receive each week. Because of this, the pause on the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is expected to have less of an impact in the state than if the other vaccines were paused.

According to DHEC, 80,498 people in South Carolina have received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

Also in the news ...

  • Publix said it is suspending the administration of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine at all of its pharmacy locations. Customers can visit publix.com/covidvaccine to schedule an appointment for the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, if currently available.

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