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Vaccination of pregnant and breast-feeding mothers temporarily halted

Health Minister Zweli Mkhize File picture: Timothy Bernard/African News Agency (ANA)

Health Minister Zweli Mkhize File picture: Timothy Bernard/African News Agency (ANA)

Published Apr 28, 2021


Health Minister Zweli Mkhize said on Wednesday the vaccination of pregnant and breast-feeding mothers with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine has been temporarily put on hold.

This happens as the side-effects of the vaccine are being investigated following the temporary halting of vaccination due to an unexplained blood clotting disorder.

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Briefing the health portfolio committee, Mkhize told MPs they had received a warning to not extend the J&J vaccine to pregnant and breast-feeding mothers.

“This is a temporary measure until such time as we have concrete information that comes from scientists to say what we need to look out for in the case. We hope that information will come fairly soon,” he said.

Mkhize said he has asked the Ministerial Advisory Committee, the Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists and the SA Health Products Regulatory Authority (Sahpra) to debate, so there was a common viewpoint on the matter.

“We should not be alarmed about it, but we need to be updated as soon as there is new information,” he said.

Mkhize appeared before the committee as the Sisonke trial targeted at healthcare workers resumed on Wednesday.

A decision to resume the trial was made after Sahpra investigated the matter.

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“We are pleased to indicate at this point that we agreed this should resume. This should resume as of today,” he said.

“We are now issuing a warning to people to be alert that there is a possibility of side-effects.”

He, however, said the assessment done globally showed the risk of the vaccine causing blood clotting was much smaller than the risk of getting the Covid-19 infection.

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Mkhize said the department had felt it important to inform the MPs about this risk so that they were conscious of it.

“It’s important that we encourage our people to continue to use the vaccine,” he said.

He told MPs that the issue of blood clotting has also been noticed in other vaccines such as AstraZeneca.

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“Other vaccines as well do have this challenge,” Mkhize said.

Political Bureau