Vaccine providers across North Carolina and the country are resuming the use of the Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccine after a safety review by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the UD Food and Drug Administration found the product to be safe enough to use. 

The use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine had been halted in Guilford County and across the country after concerns that the vaccine was causing blood-clotting in a small number of recipients.

On Friday, April 23, after a 10-day safety review, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration announced that they have confidence that the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is “safe and effective” in preventing COVID-19, and they recommended its continued use. 

Soon afterward, the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) began recommending that providers in the state resume the administration of the vaccine since the CDC and FDA had reaffirmed its safety.

Even without the vaccine in the mix since Tuesday, April 13, there have been plenty of available appointments in Guilford County, and it’s likely that, going forward, many people will choose to get one of the other two available vaccines despite the fact that those require receiving two shots rather than one.

Before April 13, North Carolina had actually already stopped and restarted administering Johnson & Johnson vaccine after sites Raleigh, Hillsborough and Chapel Hill saw over two dozen people experience significant adverse reactions. But then the CDC said that Johnson & Johnson was safe and they started administering it again.  So, in North Carolina, it has not been just “Yes, no, yes,” but has been “Yes, no, yes, no, yes.”

Here’s the state’s official explanation of the pause in the use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine:  “The pause was made out of an abundance of caution after reports of six cases of a rare type of blood clot in individuals after receiving the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine.  This potential reaction is very rare as millions of people have received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.  During the pause, medical and scientific teams at the FDA and CDC examined available data to assess the risk of this type of reaction…The FDA has determined that the available data show that the vaccine’s known and potential benefits outweigh its known and potential risks in individuals 18 years of age and older.  At this time, the available data suggest that the chance of this type of rare blood clot occurring is very low, but the FDA and CDC will remain vigilant in continuing to investigate this risk.”

Chairman of the Guilford County Board of Commissioners Skip Alston got a shot of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine before the hiatus.  Alston said at that time that he liked the fact that it only required one shot rather than two.