The South African Department of Health has announced changes to its vaccination programme that includes halving of the waiting period between the first and second dose of the Pfizer vaccine. This waiting period will now be 21 instead of 42 days.
“All individuals who are fully vaccinated with the Pfizer vaccine, meaning they have received both doses, will now be eligible for a booster dose 90 days (or three months) after the second dose instead of the current 180 days (or six months) interval,” the Department said in a statement on Tuesday. There are also changes for those over 18 who have received a J&J vaccine. They may now receive a booster dose of the same vaccine or a booster dose of Pfizer vaccine after an interval of two months (60 days).
Those who have already had two doses of the Pfizer vaccine are now eligible to receive a booster dose of the same vaccine or a booster dose of the COVID-19 J&J vaccine at least 90 days (three months) after the second dose. “This is called heterologous booster doses, meaning booster doses of a different vaccine to that which was administered as the primary dose,” said the Department.
“The decision regarding which vaccine to administer as a booster should be guided by vaccine availability. Thus, if both vaccines are available at vaccination site, homologous boosting should be preferred, unless the vaccinee requests to receive a heterologous or different booster dose, or has a history of experiencing an adverse event following immunisation,” it added, reminding recipients of vaccines that all adverse events following immunisation must be reported to their nearest vaccination site.
Another change is that the previous recommendation that there should be a 14-day interval between an individual receiving a COVID-19 vaccine and any other vaccination no longer applies.