DHEC officials say vaccine supply not an issue despite J&J vaccine pause

DHEC officials say vaccine supply not an issue despite J & J vaccine pause

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - DHEC officials called for an immediate pause on all Johnson and Johnson vaccinations across the state Tuesday.

On Wednesday, DHEC’s Interim Director Dr. Brannon Traxler gave an update on what this pause means for the vaccine rollout.

Traxler said a little over 82,000 South Carolinians have already received the J&J vaccine. But stressed that those who receive the vaccine don’t need to be overly concerned, especially if you received it over a month ago.

“We recognize that this is very serious,” Traxler said. “There is growing public concern due to these events. However, it is important to take a few things into consideration. More than 6.8 million doses have been administered in the United States with no other known reports of severe or adverse side effects. In the 6 identified cases, those blood clots in the head occurred within 2 weeks of vaccination.”

Traxler stressed that this pause on the J&J vaccine should not make people more hesitant about the COVID-19 vaccines. She said it shows that the vaccine oversight measures in place are working.

“This pause is an example that these vaccines are being critically monitored and studied, ongoing evaluations and quality control checks are going on,” Traxler said. “The Federal government and DHEC also are not afraid to push pause if there is any concern.”

Dr. Traxler stressed that there’s no evidence of any increased risk of blood clots from the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines.

When it comes to supply, Traxler said South Carolina has only been receiving about 7,000 doses of the J & J vaccine each week. She said other pharmacy chains also received separate allotments each week from the federal government. She said the state receives significantly more Pfizer and Moderna vaccines each week, with about 40,000 per week.

“Simply put, there is no shortage of COVID-19 vaccine supply for those who want to get vaccinated,” Traxler said.

About 60 providers were expected to receive an allotment this week from DHEC.

“Some providers have already requested an alternate vaccine, meaning of Pfizer or Moderna, and DHEC is certainly working hard to address those requests,” Traxler said.

Traxler said DHEC is working to make sure those providers have the correct storage and can accommodate second-dose appointments.

For the doses that these providers already have, DHEC is telling providers to store them for now.

She said they aren’t sure how long the pause will last, but her message to South Carolinians is if you had a canceled appointment, try to get a new one as soon as possible.

“I would really stress to everyone to get the first vaccine that you can,” Traxler said. “Don’t wait to vaccinate. Roll up your sleeve and get it in your arm.”

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