Slovenia on Wednesday suspended the use of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine as it investigates the death of a 20-year-old woman who had received it.
The woman died from a stroke, and the government has halted administration of the J&J vaccine until experts can determine if there was a link between her death and the vaccine she received two weeks ago, Health Minister Janez Poklukar said.
The woman who died was the second person in Slovenia to have experienced a serious health condition that wasn’t COVID-19 after receiving the shot, the official STA news agency reported.
Despite the temporary suspension and investigation into the vaccine, Poklukar said the vaccine’s “benefits continue to outweigh the risks.”
Meanwhile, police fired tear gas and water cannons in Slovenia’s capital on Wednesday at thousands of protesters who oppose tough anti-coronavirus measures in the small European Union nation.
The protesters responded by throwing bottles and other objects at the riot police.
About 10,000 protesters, chanting “Freedom! Freedom!” tried to block a major highway north of Ljubljana when the police intervened, the second such incident in Slovenia within a month.
The protest, organized mostly by groups against the use of COVID-19 vaccine passes, took place as Slovenia suspended the use of the Johnson & Johnson shot.
The one-dose J&J vaccine became more popular after Slovenian authorities introduced new requirements for the use of COVID-19 passes, including for going to work in all state-run firms. People must show that they are either fully vaccinated or that they have taken an expensive PCR test.
The government approved the purchase of an additional 100,000 J&J doses from Hungary in response to the growing demand.
About 120,000 people in Slovenia have received the vaccine.