Livingstone College switches vaccines ahead of clinic amid J&J pause

Colleges and universities relied on the Johnson & Johnson vaccine to get students and staff vaccinated before the end of the semester.

At Livingstone College in Salisbury, the school plans to offer the Pfizer vaccine to students, faculty and staff instead of the J&J vaccine at a clinic this weekend.

Senior Vice President Dr. Anthony Davis said the college worked with the Rowan County Health Department to secure the Pfizer vaccine for the clinic.

“With the Pfizer product, we’re able to get the second dose in before students go home so we’re happy about that,” Davis said.

Livingstone senior Carlee Patterson said she was grateful federal officials moved quickly to halt the Johnson & Johnson vaccine days before she and other students were supposed to be vaccinated on campus.

“I thought it was a great idea for them to take a step back and do more research on it before continuing to get it back to students and people in general,” Patterson said.

“One thing we’ve learned through COVID-19 is that you have to learn how to pivot,” Davis said.

State and federal data show more than 15% of people in Rowan County have been fully vaccinated, which is slightly lower than some other surrounding counties.

Rowan County health officials said the changes to the Livingstone College clinic will not impact other clinics going on throughout the county.

“We were able to receive the Pfizer vaccine shipment from another provider so it does not impact our other clinics.”

Health officials said they were able to provide 500 doses of the Pfizer vaccine for the Livingstone College clinic this weekend, and they are about 25% full.

Livingstone College worried about vaccine hesitancy following Johnson & Johnson scare

In the race to vaccinate, North Carolina is reporting 27.5% of those 18 or older are fully vaccinated. In South Carolina, that number is at 21%.

Nearly 300 people canceled their COVID-19 vaccination appointments Friday in Raleigh, a day after the Wake County announced it would use Pfizer’s vaccine instead of Johnson & Johnson.

That change was made after a handful of people had “adverse reactions” to the vaccine. They were taken to the hospital in both Orange and Wake counties out of an abundance of caution.

Officials said 18 people experienced those reactions, like nausea and fainting, at the clinic at the PNC Arena.

The CDC released an analysis, saying it did not find any safety issues or reason for concern. The majority of the cancelations have been rescheduled for a later date.

Livingstone College is moving forward with its vaccine clinic using the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

Channel 9 reporter Tina Terry visited the campus on Friday and asked how this news of the Johnson & Johnson scare was impacting students and staff.

The co-chair of the campus COVID-19 task force said he has thought about the effect the news about the Johnson & Johnson scare could have on people who are already hesitant to get the shot.

Rowan County’s health department will help Livingstone College host a clinic for students and staff on April 17 and leaders told Channel 9 they really pushed for the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

Livingstone is an HBCU and state leaders have made it a high priority to help overcome vaccine hesitancy, particularly among historically marginalized groups that may harbor distrust for the government and the vaccine due to past events.

Meanwhile, the state’s top health official, Dr. Mandy Cohen, said she’s not as worried about a fourth spike in COVID cases as she was for the third, saying vaccines are a great tool to fight off another surge.

“I’m more comfortable where we are overall very much because we have this new tool of vaccine,” Cohen said. “Right in the winter, we didn’t have vaccine. Our cases were going up, our hospitals were getting to that point of strain. So, I was really, we were really in a precarious place back in January.”

But Cohen said having people getting vaccinated is no reason to let your guard down. The virus is continuing to change, and variants could become even more contagious.