CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – Lowcountry clinics are worried that the temporary pause on the Johnson & Johnson (Janssen) vaccine has increased vaccine hesitancy in our community.
Vaccine clinics that typically field nearly 1,000 patients, only had 200-300 on Wednesday. Scenes of long lines at vaccine clinics, like Fetter Health’s, were replaced with empty chairs. This comes after the FDA and CDC recommended a temporary pause on Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccines. The move came after six patients, out of nearly seven million who received the vaccine, reported rare blood clots.
Natasha Chatman, the Chief Operating Officer with Fetter Healthcare Network, said they are attributing their lower patient count on Wednesday to new vaccine hesitancy. She said, “people were a little afraid because of the unknowns.”
Chatman said so far, their prior vaccine patients have not reported any adverse reactions or symptoms to their online patient portal or to them directly.
While Wednseday’s clinic was scheduled to administer the first dose of the Moderna vaccine, those with Fetter believe fear is in the air. However, DHEC assured that both Pfizer and Moderna are safe to obtain and Johnson & Johnson will remain out of the rotation for now.
Dr. Brannon Traxler, the Interim Public Health Director for DHEC, said, “there have been no reported or identified cases of these rare blood clots in the head that have been associated with either of those vaccines (Pfizer and Moderna).”
As for any hesitancy, Dr. Traxler said the pause with Janssen is simply the process working as it is supposed to. She stated, “this pause an example that these vaccines are being critically monitored, studied, ongoing evaluations are going on, quality control checks are going on and that the federal government and therefore DHEC also are not afraid to push pause if there is any concern.”
Those with Fetter Health and DHEC said that they stand by all vaccines and encourage all South Carolinians, as well as those in the Lowcountry, to get vaccinated as soon as they can.