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DHEC to pause J&J vaccine distribution, releases statement after feds raise alarm over clot concerns

Updated: Apr. 13, 2021 at 12:01 PM EDT
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WMBF) – The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control is responding after the federal government recommended a “pause” in using the single-dose Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine.

DHEC released the following statement Tuesday:

South Carolina public health officials received word this morning, like many throughout the nation and the state, that the CDC and FDA have recommended immediately pausing use of the Janssen vaccine due to concerns with blood clotting. Our top priority is protecting the health and safety of the public. This pause is evidence of very close safety monitoring as part of the strict quality assurance that is in place to ensure patient safety.

DHEC has placed an immediate pause on our Janssen distribution and has contacted providers to alert them of this new development. In addition, we are currently in the process of rescheduling or changing planned vaccine types for events that were going to use Janssen.

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. South Carolina, like most states, had been receiving a small amount of Janssen 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 Janssen vaccine is less of an impact in our state than we would experience if a pause occurred on Pfizer or Moderna vaccines. Millions of people in the United States have received doses of vaccines with very little side effects.

We continue to encourage South Carolinians to get vaccinated against COVID-19 in order to best protect yourself and others and will keep everyone updated as we learn more about the Janssen vaccine.

The CDC and FDA said the “unusual clots” occurred 6 to 13 days after vaccination.

The clots reportedly 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. There was one death and all remained under investigation.

More than 6.8 million doses of the J&J vaccine have been given in the U.S., the vast majority with no or mild side effects.

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