South Carolina pausing distribution of Johnson & Johnson vaccine due to recommendations

Landon Stamper, Aiken Standard, S.C.
·3 min read

Apr. 13—South Carolina is pushing the pause button on administration of the one-dose Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine until it is cleared by federal agencies.

On Tuesday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced they were investigating unusual clotting that occurred six to 13 days after vaccination and recommended states pause giving the shot.

The clots 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.

Dr. Edward Simmer, director of the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control, said Tuesday that he did not think this pause would have an impact on the state's vaccine availability.

In a Tuesday statement, DHEC said, "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."

The agency also emphasized that South Carolina only receives about 7,000 doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine each week, compared to over 40,000 doses of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines.

"I'd like to stress these events appear to be extremely rare," Janet Woodcock, FDA acting commissioner, said at a news conference. "However, COVID-19 vaccine safety is a top priority. We expect it to be a matter of days for this pause."

As of April 12, South Carolina has received 3,410,620 total doses of the COVID-19 vaccine and has administered 2,529,285.

A total of 44,030 Aiken County residents have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

DHEC confirmed 13 COVID-19 cases in Aiken County on Tuesday, along with 447 cases and 12 deaths across the state. None of the deaths were in Aiken County.

The data reported Tuesday is for the date of April 11.

Tuesday's report brings the total confirmed number of COVID-19 cases in Aiken County to 12,619, with 175 confirmed coronavirus-related deaths.

Aiken County also has reported a total of 4,125 probable COVID-19 cases and 42 probable coronavirus-related deaths.

Neighboring Barnwell County confirmed three virus cases Tuesday, and Edgefield County had no confirmed cases.

Across the entire state, there are 544 COVID-19 patients hospitalized. There are currently seven COVID-19 beds occupied in Aiken County.

The total number of individual test results reported to DHEC statewide Tuesday was 11,206, and the percent positive was 5%.

The total number of cases statewide is now 472,310, with 91,818 probable cases, 8,177 confirmed deaths and 1,112 probable deaths.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.