Belgium halts Johnson & Johnson vaccine for under 41s after person who received jab dies

·2-min read
 (J C via Unsplash)
(J C via Unsplash)

Belgium has halted use of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine for people under the age of 41 after a person who received the jab died.

The woman, who was aged under 40, was admitted to a hospital in Belgium and died from severe side effects to the Janssen vaccine on May 21.

Officials said she had developed “serious thrombosis and reduced blood platelets” after receiving the one-shot vaccine through her foreign employer outside the Belgian system.

Its government is seeking urgent advice from the European Medicines Agency (EMA), the European Union’s drug regulator, before it will consider lifting the suspension.

Impact on the country’s national vaccination drive would be very limited, it said in a statement.

The Janssen one-dose vaccine is primarily used in Belgium for home vaccination of the elderly and for a number of vulnerable groups including the homeless and undocumented migrants.

“The Inter-ministerial conference has decided to temporarily administer Janssen’s vaccine to the general population from the age of 41 years, pending a more detailed benefit-risk analysis by the EMA,” the Belgian health ministers said in a statement.

Deliveries of Johnson and Johnson’s vaccine in Belgium have so far been limited to about 40,000 units, with 80% of the doses administered so far to people over 45 years old, the statement continues.

The company said on April 20 it would resume rolling out its coronavirus vaccine in Europe with a warning on its label after requesting countries, including Belgium, to pause its use amid concerns about possible links to rare blood clots.

Johnson and Johnson has said that no clear causal relationship has been established between the clots and its shot while the EMA has maintained that the benefits of the shot outweigh any risks.

The action was taken after a single case “where there was serious side effects after administering the Janssen vaccine” officials said.

They did not provide more information about the patient, beyond saying she was under 40.

A total of 5,291,943 vaccine doses have been administered in Belgium as of May 16, according to official WHO figures.

Belgium is currently on the UK’s amber list with 1,049,822 confirmed cases of coronavirus and 24,853 deaths reported to the World Health Organization (WHO) as of May 26 2021.

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