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Poland kicks off J&J Covid vaccine rollout despite domestic objections and health concerns

Poland kicks off J&J Covid vaccine rollout despite domestic objections and health concerns
Polish health authorities began rolling out doses of the Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine on Thursday, rejecting the concerns of the majority-Catholic country’s religious community and fears about the side effects of the jab.

The government’s vaccine chief, Michal Dworczyk, confirmed the state’s vaccine rollout now included the Johnson & Johnson jab, stating health experts felt the benefits outweighed the side effects and they “have not received signals that there are problems or that patients are refusing [to take it].”

Some 120,000 doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine have arrived in the country, with the first jabs from the consignment administered on Thursday. 

On Wednesday, a senior official in Poland’s Catholic Church called on its members to reject both the Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca vaccines over the use of abortion-derived cells in their manufacturing processes. 

Bishop Jozef Wrobel declared that the church has a “serious moral objection” to the use of vaccines that include cells “derived from aborted foetuses” in the manufacturing process despite the jabs not containing any abortion-related cells in their ingredients. 

The comments from Poland’s religious authority contradict earlier remarks from Pope Francis, who declared that it is “morally acceptable” to be vaccinated with jabs developed using the aborted cell-linked manufacturing process. Addressing similar concerns to the Polish Catholic Church, the Pope said that having the vaccine does “not constitute formal cooperation” with or support of abortion.

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Separate to the religious question, concerns have been raised by US regulators after reports of rare blood clotting in a small number of recipients of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. On Tuesday, the US paused its rollout on foot of a recommendation by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) while further investigations are conducted into its safety. 

The decision by Poland to use the Covid vaccine came after Johnson & Johnson declared it will “proactively delay the rollout” across Europe as it works with medical experts and health authorities to address concerns about potential side effects. 

Unlike other Covid-19 vaccines, Johnson & Johnson’s is delivered in a single shot, allowing countries to provide protection to citizens at a faster rate, rather than having to wait a number of weeks to provide them with a second dose.

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