As South Africa continues to battle the Covid-19 pandemic, the country’s health regulator has approved a booster dose for citizens over the age of 18 years old.
The South African Health Products Authority (SAHPRA) has approved a third dose of the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine for adults living in the country. However, they have not yet approved the mixing of Covid-19 vaccines. This means that only adults who have received the Pfizer vaccine will get a booster shot.
SAHPRA said, ‘“Following evaluation of the data submitted, SAHPRA has approved a third dose of the Comirnaty COVID-19 vaccine in individuals aged 18 years and older to be administered at least six months after the second dose’.
SAHPRA CEO Boitumelo Semete-Makokotlela says the current vaccines still provide some protection against the newly discovered Omicron variant. She assured South Africans that decisions made by the body are backed by science.
Semete-Makokotlela explains that the six month period will also allow scientists along with vaccine manufacturers to test the efficacy of existing vaccines against new variants.
She said, “The initial data that we've seen now just from the scientific community and some of the early publications demonstrates that there may still be some good level of immunity. But it's early data, it's been done by some of the scientists across the world so there's still a lot to be done to assess this but the early data is looking very promising”.
The Health Department's Deputy Director-General, Nicholas Crisp says a decision will still have to be taken by the ministerial advisory committee. He explains the decision is expected in early January.
Crisp says despite the booster shots being approved, the focus vaccination rollout should still be focused on providing all South Africans with immunity. Part of this is ensuring that people who have not been vaccinated against Covid-19 get a jab. Approximately 14. 9 million or 37.3% adults who are fully jabbed, while 680 952 children have received their first shot of the Pfizer vaccine.