GREENSBORO, N.C. — Triad health officials expect the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine to return to use in the coming days after concerns about a possible link to serious blood clots.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices will hold an emergency meeting Friday to talk about whether to end the pause on use of that vaccine.
The CDC and the Food and Drug Administration recommended a pause in use of the single dose shot while investigating reports of rare and serious blood clots.
There are eight known cases of those clots. They all appeared in women between the ages of 18 and 48 after getting the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. One woman died.
The CDC's Advisory Committee is expected to present new information about whether a link between the vaccine and the clots was found.
"I think the CDC and the ACIP will certainly weigh everything that is known about this vaccine and so I trust that what they will share with us will be appropriate," Cone Health Chief Pharmacy Officer Dr. Deanne Brooks said, "I do expect for us to be able to administer the Johnson and Johnson again."
Wake Forest Baptist Health Infectious Disease Expert Dr. Christopher Ohl agrees. He said if no other cases were found, it would be hard to prove that a link between the Johnson & Johnson shot and blood clots exists.
"You have to take into account your risks," Ohl said, "Your risk of dying from COVID or having other medical problems is around five percent. Your risk of having a potential clot blood clot from Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine is about one in 1 million."
Forsyth County Director of Public Health Joshua Swift said his county has about 120 Johnson & Johnson doses in storage. He does not think the pause has made some people more hesitant to receive that shot.
"We’ve seen people that want to get the Johnson & Johnson," Swift said, "We’ve had individuals that said, 'Oh I wish you had Johnson & Johnson, I wish you could do that.'"
Brooks said if the CDC continues the pause, Cone Health plans to hold on to its supply of the one dose shot until instructed otherwise by the state.
She believes Friday's meeting will likely be the first of several steps to resume use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine if the pause is ended.
"I would expect it to go very similar to the way the Emergency Use Authorization has occurred. So the ACIP gives their recommendation and within 24 hours the FDA meets and gives their recommendation and then we would get the go ahead to get the vaccine," Brooks said.
Brooks said it would take time for vaccine providers to make their own plans to distribute that vaccine again, but they could know when they will resume Johnson & Johnson clinics as soon as next week.