SA Health Department to respond to US halting J&J vaccine roll-out

By AFP, Kelly Jane Turner Time of article published Apr 13, 2021

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Cape Town - Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize will make an announcement at 7pm on South Africa’s response after the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) advised on the temporary suspension of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine in the United States, the Health Department said on Tuesday.

South Africa has been administering the vaccine to more than 280 000 health workers as part of the Sisonke vaccine study which secured the early use of the vaccine in the country.

On Tuesday, the CDC and the FDA released a joint statement saying out of an “abundance of caution” that the issuing of the J&J jab should be paused over blood clot fears.

One US patient died from blood clotting complications after receiving the Johnson & Johnson Covid vaccine while another is in critical condition, a senior scientist for the FDA said on Tuesday.

Overall, six women aged between 18 to 48 developed a rare form of brain blood clotting with low blood platelets between six and 13 days after receiving the shot.

"One case was fatal, and one patient is in critical condition," Peter Marks said in a call with reporters.

Marks drew a link with a similar disorder seen in Europe after people received the AstraZeneca vaccine, which is also based on adenovirus vector technology.

The illness is thought to derive from a rare immune response to the vaccines that triggers the activation of clots.

Anne Schuchat, a senior official with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, added that the risk was very low for people who had received the vaccine a month or more ago.

"For people who recently got the vaccine within the last couple of weeks, they should be aware to look for any symptoms.

"If you've received a vaccine and develop severe headaches, abdominal pain, leg pain, or shortness of breath, you should contact your health care provider," she added.

More than 6.8 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson (Janssen) vaccine have been administered in the US.

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