Government plans to resume the vaccination of healthcare workers with the Johnson and Johnson COVID-19 vaccine from Wednesday.
This is according to a report from Sunday newspaper Rapport, which received this information from various sources within the ministerial vaccine advice committee.
This comes after Health Minister Zweli Mkhize on Wednesday announced that government would temporarily halt the rollout of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine in South Africa.
The decision followed US health officials recommending that the use of the COVID-19 vaccine be suspended due to concerns about a rare brain blood clotting side effect known as venous sinus thrombosis.
This type of brain clot was seen in combination with low levels of blood platelets in six women between the ages of 18 and 48 who had received the vaccine.
Mkhize said South Africa would temporarily suspend its Johnson & Johnson vaccine rollout until the causal relationship between the vaccine and blood clots was sufficiently interrogated.
“It’s important to be aware that with any vaccine it is essential to closely monitor its safety and efficacy. If a problem is reported following a vaccination, a thorough investigation should take place,” he said.
South Africa has not had any reports of blood clots that have formed in any recipients of the vaccination to date.
The recommended pause came just weeks after the vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford raised similar concerns in Europe.
South Africa has already backed out of its AstraZeneca vaccine plans because of its low efficacy against the 501Y.V2 variant, which is dominant in South Africa.
President of the SAMRC Professor Glenda Gray told Rapport that the Johnson and Johnson vaccine remained the best option as it was effective against this variant.
According to her, the pause was the responsible course of action.
The SAMRC announced in a press release that to date only 2.2% of around 300,000 healthcare workers who received the Johnson and Johnson vaccine reported side-effects.
“Only 134 people (0.05%) visited the hospital or emergency room for further evaluation,” it stated.
Most of the reported adverse events had been minor, local, or systematic reactions.
One person experienced a severe allergic reaction that met the international diagnostic criteria for anaphylaxis but has since made a complete recovery.