Healthcare workers will begin to receive their second shot of the Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccines as part of the Sisonke Covid-19 vaccination trial.
Unlike the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine which was administered in two separate doses, the J&J Covid-19 vaccine was originally administered as a single dose jab. However, after research found that the immunity of the jab waned as over time, the J&J jab was approved for a second dose or a booster shot.
The South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC) said in a statement, ‘The decision to give an additional dose of the vaccine is based on data showing the safety, immunogenicity and efficacy of a two-dose regime’.
The Department of Health's Covid-19 team leader, Dr Lesley Bamford explains that the trial will begin today, but the department has been experiencing delays. She says the system where healthcare workers are meant to register has had a few technical glitches. The hope is that the department will be able to start vaccinating at full scale tomorrow.
Bamford explains that everyone who was part of the first part of the Sisonke trial will be sent an SMS where they can consent to be part of the trial. She reminded participants that because it is a trial, participants will need to provide consent.
She said, “Our first healthcare workers were vaccinated in February so they are reaching that eight-month period where there is evidence that the protection may be waning. So we will be currently offering a booster dose of J&J and looking to understand what additional protection that booster dose provides to our healthcare workers”.
“We felt that it was very important that we provide them [healthcare workers] with additional protection before we enter the anticipated fourth wave,” concluded Bamford.