Health Minister Joe Phaahla has said the department is working on availing COVID-19 booster jabs for the country’s health workers, Phaala revealed on Friday 15 October. Patients with weaker immune systems and special treatment have also been prioritised.
The minister said local health workers need an additional dose after becoming the first group in South Africa to receive Johnson & Johnson vaccines in February 2021. The South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC) is set to examine the proposal before giving the final say.
“The other matter we are addressing is that of the call by some health workers on the front line that they should be considered for booster doses due to the high risk of their work and the fact that they were vaccinated first almost 8 months ago starting on 17 February 2021 on the Sisonke study,” Phaalhla said.
Booster jabs won’t only be considered for health workers. The department has recognised the need to boost persons with weaker immune systems such as renal dialysis patients, oral steroids therapy for autoimmune conditions, those with haematological or immune malignancies, those with solid organ or bone marrow transplant, renal dialysis and primary immunological disorders.
“The advice is that these categories of patients be offered additional dose over the prescribed normal, but this must be strictly under the referral by their medical doctor under their supervision,” the minister added.
The state confirmed that it is waiting for the final go-ahead from the South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC).
Meanwhile, the department of health has confirmed the overall vaccinations progress since the start of the rollout in February 2021. The number of jabs administered has breached the 20 million mark.
The government is aiming at vaccinating as many as 40 million South Africans by the end of the year.