There is much buzz around the fact that the vaccine rollout in SA was paused immediately following the pause in the USA for the Johnson & Johnson vaccine we are using here. What is behind this story?
– Six cases of a rare condition with blood clots in the brain have been found in the USA, all occurring in younger females. No such case happened in SA.
– Almost 7 million doses of this vaccine were applied in the USA and about 250,000 in SA.
– The event occurred in 0.00008% of everyone vaccinated in the USA.
– Looking at COVID-19 itself, 1.8% of people that we know contracted it died.
– Persons hospitalized with the virus have a 10% chance of dying.
– The vaccine is 100% effective in preventing death from COVID.
– The chance to get struck by lightning is twice that of a blood clot from this vaccine.
– The World Health Organization keeps recommending the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
Many think that it was over-cautious to stop vaccinations here in SA and that this was sending dangerous messages giving support to anti-vaccine thinking and hesitancy. It is the only vaccine we have here, it works well for our local virus variant, and it is easy to handle compared to other vaccines. One must consider that in the USA this pause means a pause just for one type of vaccine, while vaccinations continue at the same pace using other approved products. Here, it means a pause for the entire program. So in the USA the population is not at increased risk because of the pause, but here this is the case.
That said, there was not much choice because we are rolling out trial vaccines for which certain rules apply. Consent forms and protocols need to be updated with the latest information. This is now being done.
It is clear that for those sitting on the fence about being vaccinated such news and the hype around them is not building confidence. This adds to the problem of a comparatively slow vaccine rollout. We can only hope for a quick restart of the campaign. It is still much (very, VERY MUCH) safer having the vaccine than not.