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North Carolina pauses Johnson & Johnson vaccines following reports of rare blood clots

Six cases occurred out of six million single-dose shots given in the United States. Dr. Mandy Cohen said none of the six cases happened in North Carolina.

RALEIGH, N.C. — North Carolina is halting the administration of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine "out of an abundance of caution" following new federal guidance, North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen announced during a press conference Tuesday afternoon. 

This comes after the FDA recommended the “pause” of the single-dose Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine to investigate reports of blood clots that occurred 6-13 days following vaccination. All six cases were in women between the ages of 18 and 48 and there was one death. None of the six cases were from North Carolina, Dr. Cohen said. 

Cohen emphasized these blood clotting cases are "extremely rare" and happened out of six million Johnson & Johnson vaccines administered in the U.S. 

“It’s our vaccine safety system working," Cohen said.

242,000 people have gotten the Johnson & Johnson vaccine in North Carolina. State health officials said people who got the single-dose shot within the last three weeks should monitor their symptoms, but shouldn't be worried about the normal, expected symptoms like tiredness, headaches, flu-like symptoms, or soreness. 

Cohen said side effects including severe headache, severe abdominal pain, difficulty breathing, and leg pain are more cause for concern for those who have recently gotten the single-dose shot. 

Cohen encouraged those who have appointments for Moderna or Pfizer to get their shot. 

“Our goal is that everyone gets a safe vaccine," she said. 

Several vaccine providers in the Triad announced Tuesday they would pause the Johnson & Johnson shots, including Greensboro's largest hospital care system, Cone Health.

“These rare and unusual events have not been observed or reported at the Cone Health clinics where the Johnson & Johnson vaccine was used,” read a statement from Cone Health in a news release. “For the time being, Cone Health is replacing the Johnson & Johnson vaccines with Moderna vaccines where the Johnson & Johnson vaccine was planned for use.”

Cone Health officials said people can keep or make vaccine appointments as planned.

“We remind everyone that vaccination is extremely important to end the COVID-19 pandemic. The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are created using different technology and we remain confident in their use,” Cone Health said. “We appreciate the caution taken by the FDA and CDC to investigate the safety of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine and we look forward to the results of the investigations.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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