Cape Town - South Africa is joining other developed nations as it provides health-care workers with extra protection against Covid-19 with vaccine boosters.
Around 57 health-care workers received a Johnson & Johnson (J&J) booster dose at the Khayelitsha District Hospital on Wednesday. Health MEC Nomafrench Mbombo was in attendance for the launch.
All health-care workers who were vaccinated as part of the Sisonke 1 study, between February 17 and May 16 will be eligible to participate in Sisonke 2, and will be offered a J&J booster dose.
Mbombo said around 90 000 health-care workers in the Western Cape were part of the Sisonke 1 implementation study.
“Currently, the national Department of Health has applied to South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (Sahpra) so that all others who don't want to be part of J&J or who were not part of the J&J study but want to have booster dose, so that they can have a booster dose. They can choose whether it can be J&J or Pfizer,” said Mbombo.
Since Covid-19 was detected in the province, around 12 500 health-care workers have been infected.
In September, J&J said booster shots at six months following the first dose provided a 12-fold increase in antibodies in the US, irrespective of age.
During this week’s digital press conference, head of Health Dr Keith Cloete said the Sisonke 2 programme would be conducted as a phase 3b implementation study and health-care workers would be required to provide informed consent indicating that they agree to participate in this phase of the study.
All eligible health-care workers who opt out of Sisonke 2 as well as healthcare workers who were vaccinated with J&J after May 17, will be able to access a Pfizer booster dose within a few weeks following approval by the Sahpra and the National Health Department.
Provincial Health Department spokesperson Mark van der Heever said the Sisonke 2 programme will run until December 10.
“The aim is to ensure that all health-care workers who were vaccinated with one J&J vaccine will have access to a second (booster) vaccine dose of their choice before the anticipated fourth wave.”