She's been the public face of North Carolina's fight against COVID-19 and it was last month when Dr. Mandy Cohen publicly got her COVID-19 vaccine -- made by Johnson & Johnson.
"What we're talking about today, with this pause, is an exceedingly rare event. Literally one in a million," Dr. Cohen said of the reported blood clots potentially related to the J&J vaccine. "I would get the Johnson and Johnson vaccine again. I think this pause is to make sure we're not missing anything else. Are there more cases? Is there more to know?"
Dr. Cohen, North Carolina's Secretary of Health and Human Services, spoke to ABC11 after an afternoon news conference where she expressed confidence in the FDA and CDC's recommendations, as well as North Carolina's capability to continue its vaccination campaign with other vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna.
FULL INTERVIEW: NC's Dr. Cohen says reported blood clots are 'exceedingly rare event'
North Carolina providers pause J&J vaccinations after FDA, CDC say they're investigating blood clots
"I think the system is working as intended and I would very much encourage those who have Pfizer of Moderna appointments for this week to keep those appointments and to get vaccinated as soon as possible," she said from the podium at the Emergency Operations Center. "We know these vaccines are safe. They are effective at preventing COVID. They're effective in making sure you're not getting into the hospital."
According to Cohen, 242,000 North Carolinians received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, a small number compared to the millions more being vaccinated by the others. As supply continues to increase, however, some providers are already reporting waning demand and an emerging imbalance between what's been ordered and what's being administered.
"We knew this would happen," she said. "We recognize that as we move forward in this, the folks who are doing the hard work driving a half hour to get their vaccine, that kind of demand is gone. I think we're also encouraging our providers to move to walk-ins. I also think we need to get to different locations. Let's get out to our communities, let's get out to our churches, schools and into a lot of places."
Surveys continue to show about 7 in 10 North Carolinians expressing interest in getting a vaccine or have gotten the vaccine. North Carolina's daily count of COVID-19 cases continues to hover around 2,000.
"What I would say is the fact that we've plateaued and do not see an ongoing decline is notable because we're vaccinating thousands of people every single day," Cohen said. "If we can continue to hold stable, yes I think we can continue with easing of restrictions. But we need to keep vaccinating in order to hold stable because this virus is changing and there are more variants here in North Carolina."