On April 13, UNC Charlotte released an announcement stating that they would stop providing the Johnson & Johnson vaccine clinic due to the CDC reporting that six women who had received the vaccine experienced significant blood clotting. In turn, UNC Charlotte will be providing a Pfizer vaccine clinic on April 20.
On Feb. 27, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine was approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which has amounted to around 5% of immunizations in the United States. Director of Communications for the Division of Business Affairs Christy Jackson stated that approximately 1,200 students at UNC Charlotte received the single dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine during the week of March 31.
The Food and Drug Administration announced on Tuesday, April 13, that they were leading an investigation into the six cases of rare and significant blood clots in women aged 18 to 48, one of who died out of the 7.5 million who received the shot. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the FDA recommended that providers stop distributing the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
On Tuesday, April 13, Dr. Anthony Fauci, President Joe Biden’s chief medical adviser, said that the pause would be “More like days to weeks, rather than weeks to months.”
Following this announcement, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) reviewed this data from the seven cases. It noted that the women had clotting in the brain, but a low level of platelets, parts of the blood that help form normal clots.
The members of the ACIP concluded that there is not enough information at the moment to determine whether the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is the root of the issue. “We do not know enough yet to say if the vaccine is related to or caused this health issue,” said the CDC in a statement. However, the cases are similar to some “seen in Europe after vaccination with the AstraZeneca vaccine.”
According to the CDC, “The AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson vaccines both use an adenovirus vector” to deliver instructions to a cell. “These vaccines are different from the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, which are mRNA-based vaccines,” said the CDC. As of April 13, no cases have been reported among the more than 180 million people who received the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccines.
On Wednesday, April 14, the White House released a statement where Jeff Zients, Counselor to the President, stated, “We’ve invested $3 billion to help states and community-based organizations build vaccine confidence, particularly in the hardest-hit and highest-risk communities.” This investment was made in the efforts of combating increasing vaccine hesitancy.
Dr. Rochelle Walensky, Director of the Centers for Disease Control, addressed the six blood clot cases and stated, “I want to share with you my confidence in the system that we have in place. Jointly, CDC and FDA were able to identify these rare events and quickly alert healthcare providers and the public. This demonstrates that the safety systems we have in place are working.”
On April 15, UNC Charlotte announced that they would be partnering with Atrium Health to set up a Pfizer vaccine clinic on campus on Tuesday, April 20, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. The first dose will be offered, and the second dose will be offered on Tuesday, May 11.