Under 18s advised not to be jabbed with Johnson and Johnson CoVID-19 vaccine

As the country anticipates the first consignment of Johnson and Johnson CoVID-19 vaccine due for arrival this Saturday, individuals below the age of 18 have been asked not receive the jab to avoid health complications.

As according to Lilongwe District Health Office’s publicist, Richard Mvula, this vaccine has an efficacy rate of 80%.

This was revealed on Wednesday in Lilongwe during a workshop by the Ministry of Health that training journalists on key information about the Johnson Johnson vaccine.

Mvula said development of Johnson and Johnson — just as other vaccine — entails rigorous chemical trials and testing on older people who have been severely hit with the pandemic from the onset.

Situation report

He said it has been clinically proven that children have higher immunity to COVID-19 unlike older people, who usually have underlying medical conditions that have the potential to exacerbate the disease.

Mvula said other countries have commenced trials on age groups between 12 and 18 years of age.

He asked Malawians for compliance until the World Health Organisation (WHO) makes a recommendation that those below 18 could get the vaccine.

“We would like to be on a safer side as such we are not going to rush into administering the vaccine [on under 18s] until we have been advised to do so,” Mvula said.

Ministry of Health’s spokesperson, Adrian Chikumbe said it was imperative to brief the media fraternity as one the key stakeholders in order to enhance serene information dissemination of Johnson and Johnson vaccine.

He said Malawi would receive 302,400 doses but made an assurance that more consignments will soon follow.

Chikumbe asked those who have received AstraZeneca so far not to get vaccinated with Johnson and Johnson because the latter only requires a single shot.

“Until we have new evidence that it is okay to combine vaccines, Johnson and Johnson is given once. This is in sharp contrast to AstraZeneca which requires two doses.”

When asked, Chikumbe said the Johnson and Johnson’s side effects are mild and bearable and assured Malawians it was safe and effective in people with known medical conditions.

As of of close of business on Wednesday, 456,126 people have received the first dose while 142,178 have received the second dose of AstraZeneca.

Of these, 363 people received the first dose and 183 the second making a total of 598,408 AstraZeneca vaccine doses that have been administered in the country so far.

On same Wednesday, 675 new COVID-19 cases were registered while 794 were new recoveries and 29 new deaths.

According to the situation report from Presidential task force on CoVID-19, the highest cases are 190 from Blantyre, 91 from Lilongwe and 54 from Zomba.

The 29 new deaths were seven from Lilongwe, five from Blantyre, two each from Dowa, Chiradzulu, Nkhata Bay, Nkhotakota, and Machinga, and one each from Mangochi, Mzimba South, Balaka, Dedza, Phalombe, Rumphi, and Ntchisi Districts.

There were 73 new admissions in the treatment units with a total of 400 active cases currently hospitalised — 101 in Blantyre, 89 in Lilongwe while 50 cases were discharged.

Cumulatively, Malawi has recorded 54,178 cases since the outset of the pandemic in 2020 that saw 1,729 deaths with case fatality rate at 3.19%.

The situation report says cumulatively, 39,841 cases have now recovered at recovery rate of 73.5% and 232 were lost to follow-up, bringing the total number of active cases to 12,376.

The positive cases out of the total number tested in past 24 hours of Wednesday translates to a positivity rate of 22.9% while a weekly positivity rate — seven days moving average — is at 22.1%.

The report said the country is making good progress on the COVID-19 vaccination and that government is working tirelessly to ensure continuous availability of the vaccine.

“I would like to thank those that made a good decision to get vaccinated; this is commendable as we are collectively fighting the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Health Minister Khumbize Kandodo Chiponda.

“It has to be noted that the COVID-19 vaccine helps in reducing the risk of developing severe disease when one contracts COVID-19 and also reduces the risk of hospitalization and deaths due to COVID-19.”

She said though the country will administer the Johnson and vaccine, more doses of AstraZeneca are expected in the next few weeks to cover up for those waiting for its second dose.

“My special appeal goes to those who by nature of their occupation interact with a lot of people on a daily basis such as those working in hospitals, banks, hotels and lodges, shops, vendors and those in the transport sector to come and get the vaccine.

“Apart from the vaccination, there is need for each one of us — regardless of being vaccinated or not — to continue adhering to the COVID-19 preventive and containment measures to reduce the risk of transmission and these include proper wearing of mask, observing physical/social distance and frequent hand washing with soap or use of hand sanitizers.

“No one is safe until everyone else is safe. Get vaccinated! Wear face mask! Protect yourself. Protect your loved ones. Protect everyone,” Chiponda makes her daily message on her situation reports.

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