France will use Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine as planned despite its suspension in the United States, a government spokesman said on Wednesday, adding France had received a first shipment of 200,000 doses.
“The doses, which arrived earlier this week, are being shipped to city general practitioners and to chemists,” government spokesman Gabriel Attal told reporters.
France expects to receive 600,000 doses of the J&J vaccine by the end of the month, according to health ministry data.
After what critics depicted as a slow start, authorities are aiming to speed up France’s vaccination drive with the target of 30 million people having received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine by mid-June.
U.S. federal health agencies on Tuesday recommended pausing the use of the J&J shot after six women under the age of 50 developed rare blood clots after receiving it, in a fresh setback to efforts to tackle the pandemic. J&J also said it would delay rollout of the vaccine to Europe.
The halt follows restrictions imposed by many European countries on using an alternative vaccine from AstraZeneca, in response to similar reports of rare blood clotting among a very small number of recipients.
The Spanish and Dutch health ministries said they would follow the manufacturer’s guidelines to keep the vaccine in storage for now.
Spain has received 300,000 doses, while the Netherlands has received 79,200.
Ministries in both countries said they would wait for new guidance from the European Medicines Agency, which is expected next week, before administering any shots.