Doctors, DHEC fight vaccine hesitancy following Johnson & Johnson vaccine pause

Doctors, DHEC fight vaccine hesitancy following Johnson & Johnson vaccine pause

MURRELLS INLET, S.C. (WMBF) - Days after federal health officials recommended a pause for the single-dose Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine, state health officials and local doctors say they aren’t aware of anyone in South Carolina having symptoms in line with the rare blood clots.

Still, they are watching out to see if the temporary hold has a ripple effect that could make people think twice about any COVID-19 vaccine.

Dr. Gerald Harmon with Tidelands Health says while he remains optimistic, hesitancy regarding the vaccine is not out of the question.

“We need to be worried about that, yes,” Harmon said.

Harmon said the pause is a sign the system’s working, and it’s giving researchers and health experts time to study what’s happened.

He also explained that the pause was important so doctors could better know what to look out for. It could also prove crucial how the rare blood clots are treated and to better inform patients who may think they’re experiencing symptoms.

“The truth is this is still a very safe vaccine, we talked about the side effects, one in a million,” Harmon said.

He added, it didn’t show up in trials, because the symptoms are so rare.

If you did get the Johnson & Johnson dose within the last three weeks, the CDC says to call your doctor if you experience any of the following symptoms:

  • Severe headache
  • Backache
  • New neurologic symptoms
  • Severe abdominal pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Leg swelling
  • Tiny red spots on the skin (petechiae)
  • New or easy bruising

After three weeks, they said it’s very unlikely you’ll develop the clot.

In the Pee Dee, CareSouth Carolina CEO Ann Lewis says they’ve felt the impacts from the pause.

They’re worried about filling in the gaps without the one-dose vaccine.

“We are finding a dramatic decrease in demand for the two-shot, which is Moderna,” Lewis said. “So we’re facing a tough time not having the Johnson and Johnson now and creating even more vaccine hesitancy.”

Despite many across the state still saying no to any vaccine, Assistant State Epidemiologist Dr. Jane Kelly says they don’t think the pause is causing hesitancy to rise.

“We don’t have any direct information that this pause has increased vaccine hesitancy,” she said.

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