Wake County North Carolina made national news on Thursday, April 8 – and it was a story that caused a lot of people across the state and the country to become somewhat apprehensive about one of the COVID-19 vaccines now in use. 

Some of those who received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine in Wake County had negative reactions that required hospitalization and Wake County stopped administering the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. 

The reactions were over and above the normal arm pain, chills or rashes that many vaccine recipients experience.

Later that night, the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) sent out a press release letting the public know that the department has been working with the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), as well as the Wake County Public Health Department, to investigate the reactions from a group who got the Johnson & Johnson vaccinations at PNC Arena on Thursday.  

State health officials said that, after those consultations, the CDC didn’t find “any safety issues or reason for concern,” and “the CDC recommends continuing to administer the vaccine.”

Anyone watching the national news Thursday night also saw that a mass vaccination site in Colorado giving out shots of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine was shut down over similar occurrences there. There was also a national news story out of Georgia about eight people having very negative reactions to the same vaccine.

 Those stories come at a time when Europe and other parts of the world are spooked about some blood clotting issues related to the AstraZeneca vaccine – which isn’t available in the US.

 It’s also a time when public health officials are attempting to create faith in the vaccines to counter vaccine hesitancy.

Public health officials across the board are encouraging people to be vaccinated and that was obvious from the NCDHHS statement on Thursday night.

“Of more than 2,300 people who received the vaccine at the PNC event, 18 experienced symptoms like nausea, dizziness, fainting and one allergic reaction,” the release stated. “Four were transported to local hospitals for observation; all but one have been released from the hospital.  The CDC is aware of several incidents of vaccine recipients experiencing dizziness, light headedness, feeling faint (vasovagal) and rapid breathing, sweating, following COVID-19 vaccines in Iowa, Colorado, Georgia, and North Carolina.”

The state maintains that this shouldn’t be a reason to refuse the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

“People may experience temporary reactions after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine such as a sore arm, headache or feeling tired and achy for a day or two and in some cases, fever,” the press release from NCDHHS said.  “In most cases, these temporary reactions are normal and are good signs that the body is building protection,” state health officials noted.

“COVID-19 vaccines are tested, safe and effective,” the release added.  “Close to 175 million COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered in the United States.  The three COVID-19 vaccines authorized by the Federal Food and Drug Administration are proven to help prevent COVID-19 and are effective in preventing hospitalizations and death. You cannot get COVID-19 from the vaccine, and there were no serious safety concerns found in clinical trials.”

Public health officials recommend taking the following actions to help deal with potential side effects:

  • Have a beverage or snack before getting your vaccine.
  • Sit or lie down after you receive your vaccine.
  • Breathe slowly and deeply before getting the vaccine and think of something relaxing.

If unusual or major symptoms persist, the vaccine recipient should seek medical care.