J&J vaccine trial for healthcare workers resumes without major hiccups

Sisonke study researchers said that they’d taken all the necessary precautions to resume vaccination for non-pregnant and non-breastfeeding health workers.

A South African healthcare worker receiving the COVID-19 vaccine. Picture: Abigail Javier/Eyewitness News

CAPE TOWN - The vaccination of healthcare workers with the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 jab has successfully resumed.

As a precautionary measure, government halted the further rollout of the Johnson & Johnson shot as part of the Sisonke implementation study, after rare blood clotting cases were picked up in the United States earlier this month.

After studying local safety data compiled so far, the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (Sahpra) recommended that the study resume with revised screening protocols and enhanced safety monitoring processes.

Sisonke study researchers said that they’d taken all the necessary precautions to resume vaccination for non-pregnant and non-breastfeeding health workers.

Co-principal investigator, Professor Linda-Gail Bekker, said that no vaccine-induced blood clotting cases had been recorded locally.

"We have not seen a case that meets the definition of vaccine-induced thrombocytopenic thrombosis."

Bekker said that most of the 95 planned vaccination sites began administering the jab on Wednesday.

"A couple of the sites needed a bit more time as, for instance, there's some travel involved and we didn't want to send the vaccines out until we knew that we were definitely restarting. Some of the sites have also just received their ethics approval, so that also delayed things a little bit but by and large a number of sites are back on the road."

Health Minister Zweli Mkhize on Wednesday addressed Parliament’s Health committee, saying that around three million Johnson & Johnson shots were set to arrive in the country in the next two months.

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