South Africa’s already stalled COVID-19 vaccination programme is being further delayed by a critical shortage of Johnson & Johnson (J&J) vaccines, a result of the contamination problems in April at the companyʼs factory in Baltimore, USA., reports BusinessLIVE.
According to BusinessLIVE, although there are plenty of the two-dose Pfizer vaccines, the shortage of J&J vaccines, expected to be overcome with the delivery of doses next month, has affected the vaccination programme in remote rural areas and other sites where a single dose is optimal, acting department of health director-general Nicholas Crisp said last week.
“It has been a very difficult patch and we are anxious,” he said. While SA had expected to receive J&J vaccines from May, nothing had been received in May and June and 1,5m short expiry doses were received in July.
In quarter three to end-September SA was due to receive 9,1m J&J vaccines but this has not fully materialised. It is due to receive 19,1m doses in the fourth quarter with just more than 5m due in October.
SA expects to have received 31m J&J doses by the end of the financial year but is far behind achieving this target.
Not having enough J&J doses was a problem because some communities were difficult to get back to a second time, Crisp said. “We had planned that the J&J vaccine would be used in those circumstances — pensioners in pay queues, people who are very mobile and difficult to get to, for example those found at taxi ranks and shopping malls.”
About 30% or 16,8-million people have been vaccinated, according to health department statistics.
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