CMO urges vax uptake as booster programme sees expansion

Chief Medical Officer, Dr Rhonda Sealey-Thomas (file photo)
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With Antigua and Barbuda now expanding the distribution of Covid-19 booster shots to all residents 18 years of age and older, the country’s chief medical officer (CMO) is urging residents still without initial doses to elect to take the jab.

Dr Rhonda Sealy-Thomas made the appeal on Thursday morning during an Observer AM interview, noting that the virus will be here for the long haul, and not only do residents have to learn to live with it, but also protect themselves and others such that the country does not experience a spike in hospitalisations and deaths due to the disease.

“As part of this booster programme, we are using the opportunity to encourage those who would have not been vaccinated before to please come into our vaccination sites to get vaccinated,” she said. “We are also doing that in our institutions and in elderly care homes; if there is anybody that we may have missed, anybody who for some particular reason when we were giving the original primary and secondary doses, if you were unable to get the vaccine at that particular point in time, we encourage you please to get vaccinated.”

The Ministry of Health’s booster program started on December 6 with the administration of an additional vaccine dose to healthcare providers such as doctors, nurses, radiologists, pharmacists and emergency medical technicians.

Parliamentarians and other government officials have also been afforded the opportunity to get the shot.

Booster shots are being administered to people who received the last dose of an approved Covid shot at least six months ago.

Dr Sealy-Thomas further explained that while health officials are recommending that people get a third dose of the vaccine they were initially administered, the option to have a different vaccine administered also exists.

She explained that some studies support remaining with the initial vaccine type for booster shots, other studies have shown benefits from mixing doses as well.

To this end, individuals who received first and second doses of AstraZeneca can get a third dose of the same or the Pfizer; for those with initial doses of the Pfizer jab, they can opt for the same or AstraZeneca.

Individuals who were administered a dose of the Johnson & Johnson inoculation can opt for the same or the Pfizer jab, while those who have received doses of Sinopharm will have to get a third dose of that vaccine.

Boosters are available at the Multipurpose Exhibition and Cultural Centre and the Villa Polyclinic.

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