‘Don’t panic’ – Health Minister says after FDA limits use of J&J vaccine
One day after the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced that it is limiting the use of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine in adults and persons with special medical conditions, Minister of Health Dr Frank Anthony has urged that Guyanese should not panic.
The FDA in a statement revealed that the new recommendation is being made due to the risk associated with a rare blood clotting condition known as thrombocytopenia syndrome after being administered the vaccine.
“Persons who received Johnson & Johnson vaccines, they don’t have to panic because if you have received the vaccine, and you had no complications, then you wouldn’t have any complications now,” Dr Anthony revealed in Friday’s COVID-19 update.
Johnson & Johnson first detected the dangerous blood clotting condition in 2021.
“In April of 2021, they had put a pause to the use of Johnson & Johnson vaccines; that was subsequently lifted after 10 days and they continue to advise that people can use the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.”
According to Dr Anthony, an independent panel was then constituted and in December 2021, the panel recommended that persons should use other vaccines such as Pfizer and Moderna instead of Johnson & Johnson.
“I think what prompted their decision now, they have recorded in the United States at least nine persons who have died in the first quarter of this year after receiving the Johnson & Johnson vaccine and those persons had complications of thrombocytopenia and because of that, it resulted in the death of these persons,” Dr Anthony said.
However, he noted that the condition is rare and only occurs in 3.2 cases per every million doses of the vaccine administered.
“In Guyana, we have used Johnson & Johnson, we did not see persons having thrombocytopenia and therefore we have still been using it and we have had no adverse effects,” Dr Anthony said.
He further explained that the rare condition occurs within one or two weeks of the vaccine being administered and reminded that it is a precautionary recommendation being made in the United States.
The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is now a two-dose regimen and is also being used as a booster shot.