J&J issues impact clinics; area COVID deaths, cases appear stable

By DEUCE NIVEN

tribdeuce@tabor-loris.com

     Issues involving the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine are impacting vaccination efforts locally, as the toll of the virus appears to have stabilized.

     This post will cover these topics:

  • J&J issues delay CC mass vaccination clinic
  • Another week with no COVID deaths in Columbus
  • Horry case count, fatalities stable

J&J issues delay CC mass vaccination clinic

     Separate and apparently unrelated issues involving the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine have at least delayed a planned second mass vaccination effort in Columbus County, and interrupted appointments for some locally, across the Carolinas, and nationally.

     “We were trying to schedule another mass vaccination clinic, we had everything in place except the vaccine for April 17,” Columbus County Health Director Kim Smith said Tuesday.

     A manufacturing error late last month at a Baltimore plant manufacturing ingredients for the J&J vaccine, marketed under the Janssen name,  impacted 15 million doses. While Johnson & Johnson downplayed the impact, there has been a significant impact on the amount of vaccine distributed to the states.

     “Our state was getting 70,000 doses,” Smith said, that allocation expected to fuel mass vaccination clinic like one held March 20 at Southeastern Community College. “Our allotment was decreased to 17,000.”

     None of that lower allotment was allocated to Columbus County, that shortage clear more than a week ago and unrelated to a second issue that has prompted the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Food & Drug Administration, and a number of states, including the Carolinas, to pause use of the J&J vaccine, at least for now.

     Federal health investigators are reviewing reports that six people in the U.S. who have received the J&J vaccine have developed a specific type of blood clot. All of the cases involved women between the ages of 18 and 48, with symptoms reported 6 to 13 days after receiving the vaccine, a joint CDC and FDA statement said.

     More than 6.8 million doses of the J&J vaccine have been given in the United States, as of Monday, the federal agencies reported.

     Health leaders in both Carolinas have ordered pauses in the administration of the J&J vaccine until the federal agencies complete their review.

     That will impact people who have appointments to receive the J&J vaccine locally, including at local pharmacies, Smith said.

     “Walmart and Baldwin Woods Pharmacy have had the Johnson & Johnson vaccine,” Smith said.

     But there is plenty of Pfizer and Moderna vaccine available in the county, with supply currently exceeding demand, Smith said.

     “We are giving all that we can,” Smith said. “We need more people to call in and get the vaccine. We’ve got plenty of Moderna.”

     To make an appointment at the Columbus County Health Department call 910-642-6615 extension 7072 or 7074.

Another week with no COVID deaths in Columbus

     There were no COVID-19 associated deaths involving Columbus County residents during the week ending Tuesday, the number of newly confirmed cases stable for the two-week period, data from North Carolina’s Department of Health and Human Services showed.

     There were 33 newly confirmed cases during the week, up from 33 the previous week. Whiteville lead the count with nine, Hallsboro recorded seven, Tabor City and Chadbourn had six each.

     Columbus County has recorded 149 COVID-19 deaths and 6,182 cases since the pandemic began more than a year ago. Case/death totals include Whiteville, 1,962/52 and Tabor City, 1,483/34, with no other Zip Codes close to 1,000 cases.

Horry case count, fatalities stable

     COVID-19 associated deaths and newly confirmed cases in Horry County appear largely stable for the week ending Tuesday, data from South Carolina’s Department of Health and Environmental Control shows.

     Three county residents were claimed by the virus for the week, the same number as the previous seven days, while the count of newly confirmed cases rose slightly, from 199 to 217, still far below the peak during the last virus surge.

     All of those confirmed deaths were elderly people who passed away on April 2, 7 and 8, the DHEC data showed.

     Newly confirmed cases from the Loris Zip Code doubled during the week ending Tuesday, from 11 the previous seven days to 22, the DHEC data showed. Green Sea’s total rose by 3.

     COVID-19 has claimed 439 Horry lives during the pandemic, more than a year-long now, while infecting a confirmed 28,578 residents including 1,851 from the Loris Zip Code, 236 from Green Sea.

Updates

     Look for continuing coverage on local impacts from the coronavirus COVID-19 outbreak here and in the Tabor-Loris Tribune in print and online.