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UNC Health is closely monitoring the situation regarding the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine. As a precaution, we will follow the FDA’s recommendation and pause vaccinations using the Johnson & Johnson vaccine until federal authorities are able to review data and provide further guidance. Patients who were scheduled to receive the Johnson & Johnson vaccine at UNC Health vaccination clinics today will be offered one of the other vaccines where possible or rescheduled as necessary. Severe reactions are rare. Click here for information on when to seek medical care.

Dr. Kelly Klocek, an ED physician at Onslow Memorial Hospital, recently received her second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine and brought along a special guest – her three month old son Gabriel, who breastfed during her injection.

“The American College of OB-GYNs, ACOG, recommends it and says that it’s safe,” said Dr. Klocek when asked about why she chose to be vaccinated. “It’s actually hopeful that it’s going to pass some antibodies on to the baby. I don’t think that they’re going to approve the vaccine for somebody as young as he is for at least a year if not longer, so I want to get him all the protection I can. But also when I’m breastfeeding, I’m spending five hours a day within inches of his face. If I get coronavirus, even if the vaccine doesn’t give him any protection from the virus itself, reducing my risk of getting it reduces his risk of getting it.”

Dr. Klocek brought Gabriel along for the vaccination to help to show co-workers she was confident in the vaccine’s safety and to encourage other nursing mothers who are hesitant to get vaccinated to ask questions.

“Ask questions. Ask the people you trust. When I got my first vaccine, I took a picture, and posted it on Facebook. I got questions from nurses, from techs, from family members who all said, “hey, I was on the fence. Talk to me about why you’re comfortable.” Showing people that I’m actively getting the vaccine, that I’m trusting the science, has helped. If you don’t know me, you don’t have to trust me about why to get the vaccine, but look at who’s choosing to get it. Look at the overwhelming number of physicians who are choosing to get this vaccine, who are begging for this vaccine. Find other people who you trust their medical judgement, and ask them,” Dr. Klocek said.

Please Note: While the COVID-19 vaccines have a similar safety profile to other vaccines recommended by the CDC, there are individual conditions for which we do not have enough information. For people who are pregnant, breastfeeding, or immunocompromised, we encourage you to discuss your situation with your healthcare provider before scheduling your vaccination appointment. For persons with a history severe allergic reactions to vaccines or medications, we strongly encourage you to discuss your situation with your healthcare provider before scheduling your vaccination appointment.

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