The Johnson & Johnson (Janssen) COVID-19 vaccine will start flowing into arms again at Novant Health on Thursday after federal health authorities approved resuming its use.

Here’s what you need to know:

  • Initially, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine will be available at two sites: Novant Health Medical Group - East Mecklenburg, 6070 E. Independence Blvd., Charlotte (Monday to Friday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.) and the Novant Health Medical Group - Hanes, 196 Hanes Mall Circle, Winston-Salem (Monday to Friday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.)
  • When scheduling, all patients can view which brand is available at each of our vaccination sites on a given day or time and can select their appointment time, accordingly. Walk-ins are also welcome at all locations as supply allows.
  • There is no charge for the vaccine.
  • Novant Health also has ample supply of the two-dose Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. Resuming use of the Johnson & Johnson (Janssen) COVID-19 vaccine will ensure flexibility, choice and improved access.

 

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Why did the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Federal Drug Administration recommend pausing the administration of J&J (Janssen)?

On April 13, there were six reported U.S. cases of a rare and severe type of blood clot in individuals after receiving the J&J vaccine. In these cases, a type of blood clot called cerebral venous sinus thrombosis (CVST) was seen in combination with low levels of blood platelets (thrombocytopenia). All six cases occurred among women between the ages of 18 and 48, and symptoms occurred six to 13 days after vaccination.

What information was found?

As of April 23, 2021, more than 8 million doses of the J&J (Janssen) COVID-19 vaccine had been given in the United States. As of April 23, 2021, experts reviewing safety reports for this vaccine found 15 reports of women who received the J&J (Janssen) COVID-19 vaccine and later developed thrombosis, or a blood clot, with thrombocytopenia syndrome (TTS).

“For all women, this is a rare adverse event. For women 50 years and older and men of all ages, the adverse event is even more rare,”  said Dr. David Priest, Novant Health senior vice president and chief safety, quality and epidemiology officer. 

“And the action by the federal government to raise the issue and enact the pause should reassure us that anytime there's a safety signal or a sign that there could be a safety issue with a vaccine that the CDC and Food and Drug Administration will take action,” he said.

Why did the pause end?

The CDC and FDA have recommended that use of the J&J (Janssen) COVID-19 vaccine resume in the United States, effective April 23, 2021. Novant Health is following that recommendation. The current review of all available data shows that the J&J vaccine’s known and potential benefits outweigh its known and potential risks for those recommended to receive it.

However, women younger than 50 years old should be aware of the rare but increased risk of blood clots with low platelets after vaccination, and that other COVID-19 vaccines are available where this risk has not been seen.

What should I do after receiving the Johnson & Johnson (Janssen) vaccine?

For three weeks after receiving the vaccine, you should be on the lookout for possible symptoms of a blood clot with low platelets. These include:

  • Severe or persistent headaches or blurred vision
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain
  • Leg swelling
  • Persistent abdominal pain
  • Easy bruising or tiny blood spots under the skin beyond the injection site

 

Seek medical care right away if you develop one or more of these symptoms.

Vaccinations never stopped

Despite the pause, vaccinations continued as Novant Health administered both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. In fact, all Novant Health vaccination sites started accepting walk-ins as supply allows. You’re encouraged to make an appointment, but if someone has an unexpected free hour at work or finds themselves in the area, we invite them to pop in and get your vaccine. Click here for a list of locations.

Public health authorities note that blood clots from other causes are not uncommon, killing around 100,000 Americans annually. Blood clots can occur as a side effect to common medications, such as birth control and hormone replacement therapy, pregnancy, long trips and smoking. COVID-19 patients can also develop severe blood clots when suffering from the disease.  

Context is key

Remember: The chances of suffering a serious blood clot from the J&J COVID-19 vaccine are extremely rare. Here’s a sampling of lifetime odds of death from the National Safety Council.

Heart disease: 1 in 6

Cancer: 1 in 7

Car accident: 1 in 107

Gun assault: 1 in 289

Choking on food: 1 in 3,825

Sunstroke: 1 in 8,248