FILE PHOTO: Vials labelled "COVID-19 Coronavirus Vaccine" and syringe are seen in front of displayed Johnson & Johnson logo in this illustration taken, February 9, 2021. REUTERS
An official source at Egypt's Health Ministry said on Tuesday that four groups would be prohibited from taking the Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccine (Janssen), which is currently dedicated for travelers only.
In statements to Al-Watan daily, the source said the groups are individuals with immune diseases, the ones who take immunosuppressive drugs, and those who have cancerous diseases, as well as children up to the age of 18.
According to the WHO Strategic Advisory Group of Experts (SAGE), individuals with a history of anaphylaxis should not take the Janssen vaccine, which has an efficacy of 85.4 percent against severe disease and 93.1 percent against hospitalization.
Anyone with a body temperature over 38.5ºC should postpone vaccination until they no longer have a fever, the WHO’s advisory group said.
It also recommends the use of the coronavirus vaccine in pregnant women only if the benefits of vaccination to the pregnant woman outweigh the potential risks.
However, it says, the vaccine is safe and effective in people with known medical conditions associated with increased risk of severe disease, such as hypertension, chronic lung disease, significant cardiac disease, obesity, and diabetes.
Egypt, which started its vaccination campaign early this year, has imported millions of doses of the WHO-approved British AstraZeneca vaccine, the Chinese Sinopharm, and the Russian Sputnik V — which hasn’t been approved by the WHO.
Given that the Janssen vaccine had not been available and that a majority of countries have not approved China’s two vaccines as of yet, the majority of travellers in Egypt were choosing to be inoculated with the AstraZeneca vaccine, leading to its shortage.
On Monday, Egypt’s Health Minister Hala Zayed announced that the first shipment of the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine arrived at Cairo International Airport on Sunday night comprising 261,600 doses of the vaccine.
The first shipment of Johnson & Johnson is part of a larger deal of about 25 million doses, Al-Watan quoted the health source as saying.
After being tested by the Egyptian Drug Authority (EDA), the Janssen doses will be available in 126 health centres nationwide dedicated for vaccinating travellers, the Health Ministry spokesperson said on Monday.
These 126 centres nationwide have been recently operated by the ministry only for travel purposes and have also started to issue QR coded certificates for travellers who wish to document that they were vaccinated against the coronavirus.
The centres aim at facilitating procedures for travellers as those wishing to travel have been suffering from multiple procedures to obtain a vaccination certificate from the Ministry of Health, documenting it from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and translating it at the embassy of the country to which they intend to travel.
According to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the unpunctured multi-dose vials of the Janssen COVID-19 Vaccine can be stored at 2°C to 8°C (36°F to 46°F) but it cannot be stored frozen. They may also be stored between 9°C to 25°C (47°F to 77°F) for up to 12 hours, the FDA noted.
The FDA also says that the Janssen vaccine, which is administered intramuscularly as a single dose (0.5 mL), has to be protected from light.