The South African Medical Association (SAMA) has welcomed Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize’s decision to temporarily halt the rollout of the Johnson and Johnson (J&J) COVID-19 vaccine while investigations into reports of rare blood clotting continue.

The temporary suspension of the rollout comes after the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said that six cases of blood clotting were detected, following the rollout of more than 6.8 million doses of the vaccine.

South Africa, which was the first country to administer the vaccine, has also paused its use, although no cases of blood clots have been reported in the country.

Nearly 300 000 healthcare workers have already received the one-shot vaccine in South Africa.

SAMA Chairperson Dr Angelique Coetzee says, “Yes, it is good for the minister to temporarily halt the vaccination rollout for at least 24 – 48 hours while we gather some more information.”

“One also needs to look at the six people who claimed it was due to the J&J vaccine out of more than six million. In medicine terms, that is a very small number. One needs to always measure it up to what is for the better,” added Coetzee.

Dr Coetzee was interviewed on Morning Live:

SAMA has also advised anyone who has received the Johnson and Johnson COVID-19 vaccine to report any adverse bodily reactions.

Coetzee says, “From SAMA’s side, I will urge anyone that already had the vaccine and any adverse reactions, there is a website on the paper that you signed when you got your vaccine, where you can go and you and log your adverse reactions. Remember, a lot of the adverse reactions is not an allergic reaction but a reaction against the vaccine itself and so far we haven’t seen any deaths or reports of blood clots.”

Mkhize calls on public not to panic

Mkhize has called on the public not to panic following the announcement that the rollout of the Johnson & Johnson has been suspended in South Africa.

Mkhize says the issue will be cleared in a few day’s time, “It’s precautionary halting. It’s not like we are closing down on Johnson and Johnson. As soon as the information is made available we are quite certain that we should move on. It might take a couple of days to resume but at this point, we think it might be the best way to deal with it.”

Mkhize announcing temporary suspension of J&J vaccine:

EFF called for J&J suspension

The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) called for an immediate halt of Phase 1 of the vaccine rollout in the country, which focuses on vaccinating healthcare workers.

In a statement, the party said the call is guided by the US FDA and Centres for Disease Control and Prevention’s recommendation for a pause in the administration of the single-dose J&J COVID-19 vaccine.

In a joint statement, the FDA and the Centres for Disease Control said it was investigating blood clots in six women who received the single dose shot.

One of the women died and another one is in critical condition in hospital.

US recommends pausing administration of J&J vaccine over blood clot concerns:

The South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (SAHPRA) says it will continue evaluating the safety and watching world developments regarding the Johnson & Johnson (J&J) COVID-19 vaccine.

EXPLAINER South Africa’s vaccine rollout strategy: