Tuesday 21 March 2023

Janssen vaccine removed from Dutch programme over blood clot fears

The Janssen headquarters in Leiden. Photo: Bic via Wikimedia Commons

The Leiden-developed Janssen vaccine is being removed from the Dutch vaccination programme because of fears that it can cause very rare blot clots, ministers have decided.

The Dutch health council recommended the move, even though there have been no reports of such complications in the Netherlands.

The information currently available shows reports of problems with the vaccine in certain age groups are a similar order of magnitude to the AstraZeneca vaccine, and that there are more reports among younger people, the health council said.

The AstraZeneca vaccine in the Netherlands has only been given to the over 60s because of the blood clot fears.

The decision means that the Janssen vaccine will not be given to people now being called up for a vaccination – effectively the under 40s. However, it may still be used for hard-to-reach groups such as ships’ crews and the homeless.

‘Groups which are difficult to reach using regular channels … will have an advantage with the Janssen product because it is a one dose vaccine,’ the health council said. ‘The Janssen vaccine is sufficiently effective and safe.’

The health council also said it is not changing its position on the AstraZeneca vaccine, which should only be used by the over 60s.

Enough doses

Figures from the public health institute RIVM and the health ministry show that the Netherlands has ordered enough of the mRNA Pfizer-BioNtech and Moderna vaccines to meet needs. Some 6.5 million doses have been ordered by the end of June and five million people are still awaiting a first shot.

The decision to remove the Janssen vaccine from the programme may delay the government’s plans to ensure all adults are vaccinated by mid July by a week, officials said.

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