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Your Covid-19 questions answered

I am over 50 and can get a booster shot, but will it help?

06 June 2022 - 08:00
From Monday all South Africans over the age of 50 can get another dose of the Pfizer vaccine. File photo.
From Monday all South Africans over the age of 50 can get another dose of the Pfizer vaccine. File photo.
Image: Gallo Images/Misha Jordaan

South Africans over the age of 50 are eligible for a second Covid-19 booster shot, with the World Health Organisation (WHO) saying the additional jab may help ensure protection against the coronavirus.

The national health department announced that from Monday all people in that age group can receive another dose of the Pfizer vaccine. The dose must be taken at least 120 days or four months after you received your last Pfizer or Johnson&Johnson Covid-19 jab.

The department said this was part of efforts by government to achieve population immunity and protect vulnerable groups, especially those living with comorbidities such as diabetes and hypertension.

The International Coalition of Medicines Regulatory Authorities and WHO recently issued updated guidelines for healthcare workers about the Covid-19 vaccine. They explained that while the effectiveness of a second booster for all age groups was being studied and may not be needed, evidence shows it is important for those who are immunocompromised

“Early results indicate protection against serious illness or death is maintained for many months or longer after a third vaccination

“At present, there is not a widespread view that a fourth vaccination [second booster] is required to maintain immunity, except for in people who are immunocompromised.”

Several countries have offered a second booster to older members of their populations.

Last month the WHO said studies into the effectiveness of providing an additional booster were sparse, and limited on the duration of further protection, but there were indications it is beneficial.

“Seven studies were available for review, six of which were from Israel and one from Canada. All were conducted during a time when Omicron has been the predominant circulating strain globally.

“While the studies vary in their design and population investigated, most evaluated the relative effectiveness of a fourth dose four months after a third dose of mRNA [Pfizer] vaccine compared to those who received three doses.

“This relative vaccine effectiveness only provides evidence on the value of a fourth dose compared to individuals who already have some vaccine induced protection (three dose recipients).

“The relative vaccine effectiveness depends upon the initial vaccine efficacy provided by three doses and how much subsequent waning has occurred. In contrast, earlier studies provide an absolute vaccine effectiveness comparing vaccinated vs unvaccinated individuals.”

WHERE CAN I GET MY BOOSTER SHOT?

The government and private sector have introduced thousands of vaccination sites across the country where you can get Covid-19 vaccine booster shots for free.

Click here to see vaccination sites in your area. You can also get the jab at Clicks or Dis-Chem pharmacies. You can find a Clicks vaccination site here and a Dis-Chem site here.

The health department and health organisation Right-to-Care have launched the FindMyJab.co.za app to make it easier for anyone to find the closest vaccination site using a smartphone, laptop or tablet.

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