The CDC last week recommended the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines ahead of the J&J, because of concerns the J&J shot could, in rare cases, cause blood clots, or thrombosis.
The J&J vaccine is one of the most widely used in Africa, because it’s a single dose shot that doesn’t require ultra-cold storage. The South African health department has reassured people that the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is safe.
In a statement, the CDC said it was expressing a “clinical preference” for other vaccines over J&J.
“This updated CDC recommendation follows similar recommendations from other countries, including Canada and the United Kingdom,” the CDC said. Still, the CDC said “receiving any vaccine is better than being unvaccinated.”
But health authorities in Africa say the CDC recommendation has done “irreparable” harm to their vaccination efforts. They say that the CDC’s linking of the J&J vaccine with rare, but potentially fatal, side effects will spark widespread rejection of the vaccine on the continent, where other vaccines are mostly unavailable.
Fewer than 6% of people in Africa are vaccinated and the World Health Organization describes Africa as “one of the least affected regions in the world.”