CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccine will soon be available again for North Carolinians. State leaders expect to be able to order new doses this week in the race to get shots into as many arms as possible to help bring a quicker end to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Previously, the distribution of the J&J shots was paused for 11 days after the vaccine was linked to three deaths and 15 cases of severe blood clots. While the vast majority of people who received one of the nearly 7 million doses reported no or mild side effects, there was concern about the handful of cases that popped up. The question that now remains: will people feel comfortable enough to take the shot now?
Dr. Ashley Perrott with Novant Health admitted the pause could be enough for most people to push pause on the J&J single-shot dose and instead opt for the two-shot options from Moderna and Pfizer.
"We expect to see a lower volume of people that are interested in that vaccine now that there's been a pause," she said.
But the Centers for Disease Control reports the complications all involved women, and there were only about 2 adverse outcomes out of every 1 million doses given to women between 18-49 years of age, and only about 1 case out of each million for women aged 50 and up. This helped prompt the CDC to give the green light on using the J&J shots again.
"The American public should feel reassured about the safety systems and protocols that we have in place around the COVID-19 vaccine," said CDC Director Rochelle Walensky.
Have a relative or friend in another state and want to know when they can get vaccinated? Visit NBC News' Plan Your Vaccine site to find out about each state's vaccine rollout plan.
Currently, there are more than 132,000 doses of the J&J vaccine available in North Carolina, and Dr. Perrott says despite some initial hesitancy, there are still plenty of people interested in the single shot.
“There is a small group of people who really have a preference for Johnson & Johnson even with this pause that’s occurred," she said.
For her, and for Gov. Roy Cooper, the more shots that are given out, the better. As of Thursday, April 22, Cooper said almost 38% of the state has had at least one dose and says it won't take much more to get the statewide mask mandate lifted.
“Each shot in an arm is a step closer to putting this pandemic in the rearview mirror,” he said. "With at least two-thirds of adults vaccinated our public health experts believe we’ll have enough protection across our communities to live safely with this virus and begin to put the pandemic behind us.”