Source: Vientiane Times
Health authorities will continue to use the Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine despite some unexpected side effects being reported by a few people.
Deputy Director General of the Department of Communicable Diseases Control of the Ministry of Health, Dr Sisavath Soutthaniraxay, addressed the issue at a press conference on Tuesday after Champassak authorities called a halt to the rollout of the vaccine following reports by people in younger age groups of side effects.
Dr Sisavath admitted that some people had reported side effects from the Johnson & Johnson vaccine but said its use would continue because none of the side effects were serious and the benefits of the vaccine far outweighed the short-lived discomfort experienced by some people following vaccination.
He also warned that all vaccines take time to provide immunity and no vaccine can be guaranteed to provide total immunity in every individual. This means it is possible for someone to fall ill even after being vaccinated.
Director General of the Department of Hygiene and Health Promotion and member of the National Taskforce for Covid-19 Prevention and Control, Dr Phonepaseuth Ounaphom, told Vientiane Times that several people in Champassak province under the age of 60 who had been given the Johnson & Johnson vaccine had reported unexpected side effects.
But he said there was no cause for concern because all vaccines have to pass stringent safety and quality checks and people will develop strong protection against the Covid-19 virus after being vaccinated.
People of all ages should protect themselves by being vaccinated, although no vaccine can offer 100 percent immunity, he added.
The government will use the Johnson & Johnson vaccine to first vaccinate priority groups, including people over the age of 60, people with underlying health conditions, and health workers across the country, in line with the National Deployment and Vaccination Plan.
The vaccine is being sent to all provinces, where people were happy to learn that only a single dose is required to build immunity. One person said “I felt a bit thirsty on the first day but I was fine after that.”
However, Head of the Champassak Provincial Health Department, Dr Viengsy Souphakdy, said they had decided to suspend the administration of Johnson & Johnson vaccine for people between the age of 20 and 50.
People over the age of 60 in Champassak province who have received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine have reported no significant side effects.
Health officials in Champassak province administered 123,100 doses of the Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine last week, primarily to the elderly and those with underlying conditions.