J&J booster shots available for people over 18 from Friday: Health Ministry

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The Health Ministry says Johnson and Johnson booster shots will from Friday be available to people over 18 who received their first J&J vaccine at least two months ago.

This comes after the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (SAHPRA) approved the use of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine as a booster shot against the coronavirus for people over the age of 18.

SAHPRA earlier this month also approved the Pfizer vaccine as a booster shot – six months after the second dose of the vaccine.

Deputy Director General at the Health Department Dr Nicholas Crisp says, “Johnson and Johnson is a single dose, not a double dose and the period which they boosted is two months. Anything between two and six months after the primary vaccination and that means from last night when we switched on the system, people who got one those of Johnson and Johnson may now go to any vaccination site and get a second dose which is now a booster dose.”

‘70% vaccination target not met’

The Department says it is disappointing that a target that has been set to vaccinate at least 70% of the population has not been met. It says the number of people taking the jabs has reduced significantly.

“We have done 27.5 million doses of vaccine and there are about 17 million people have been vaccinated. So the good news is although we haven’t managed to reach the 70% adults, we have liked to reach by this time of the year. The good news is that we have reached large numbers of older people and we know that older people are more vulnerable.”

Pfizer booster

Pfizer booster shots were set to become available in early January. However, the health ministry said these would now be offered from December 28 for people who had received their second dose at least six months ago.

While SAHPRA had authorised the use of a different booster shot from that delivered for a person’s primary vaccination, the health department’s statement described boosters as “the same vaccine in the same dose administered to people who have had a primary vaccination series”.

South Africa has relied heavily on the two companies’ shots in its vaccination campaign, which had given 44% of its adult population at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine earlier this month.

That is more than many African countries, but well short of the government’s year-end target. -Additional reporting by Reuters 

Understanding the purpose of the Covid-19 booster shots with Dr Linda-Gail Bekker: