A vaccination site in North Carolina has paused administering the Johnson & Johnson adenovirus vector vaccine for the SARS-CoV-2 virus after 18 incidents of adverse reactions were reported. The site, located in Wake County, has administered over 2,300 doses of J&J’s vaccine. Adverse reactions were reported as manifesting within two hours of receiving the shots.
Out of 18 reported cases at the site, 14 people had what officials described as “minor reactions,” and were treated on site. The remaining four were hospitalized for further analysis.
People who were already scheduled to receive the J&J vaccine have been assigned a different vaccination date or given the option to receive Pfizer shots. Wake County officials said the decision to halt administration of the vaccine was taken in partnership with the NC Department of Health and Human Services after consultation with Johnson & Johnson.
Three teams are said to be investigating the issue. Kim McDonald, Wake County Public Health’s Medical Director, said her department is working with the CDC and NCDHHS to evaluate the situation. J&J said the company is collecting more information from the vaccine center and that their highest priority is to ensure the safety and well-being of the people.
Other sites across the country have also reported adverse reactions to the J&J version. In Georgia, distribution was paused at a site in Cumming after similar reports. Eight people experienced adverse reactions, including fainting and dizziness. One person was sent to a hospital before being released.
While Georgia health authorities say the reactions were within expectations, they made the call to pause distribution due to the abnormal number of such cases, but downplayed the reactions people have endured. North Health District PIO Dave Palmer told Fox5 that people suffering from excess heat may have played a role in triggering the reactions.
Meanwhile, Department of Public Health Commissioner Kathleen E Toomey said in a statement “There is no reason to believe there is anything wrong with the vaccine itself, and other individuals who have received the J&J vaccine should not be concerned.”
Toomey also claimed “heat and the ability to keep the site cool” were contributing factors.
In Colorado, the vaccination site at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park in Commerce City was recently shut down after a “limited number” of people reported adverse reactions to the J&J vaccination.
A second Fox5 report said that while more than 1,700 injections were administered that day, Johnson & Johnson “did not say how many people had reactions but said it amounted to 0.8% of those who received a vaccine dose Wednesday,” adding the company “did not specify what kinds of reactions people were having.”
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has stated that adverse reactions to SARS-CoV-2 vaccines would be rare. However, some medical professionals have suggested more noticeable symptoms given that the country has begun administering the vaccines to the younger sections of the population.
According to Dr. William Schaffner, Professor of Infectious Diseases at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, it is common to expect young people to experience some mild symptoms in reaction to vaccination within 24 to 48 hours.
“Now, we’re vaccinating young people, their immune system responds very quickly to these vaccines… So, we’re seeing more of these reactions… The CDC is monitoring vaccine safety constantly… With some of the vaccines, we’ve had this anaphylaxis phenomenon, we can pretty much predict when that’s happening and provide a vaccine in a safe environment,” Schaffner told 11 Alive.