By Carlena Knight
Starting next week, elderly persons and those with immune deficiencies may start to receive their booster shots.
This is according to the Prime Minister’s Chief of Staff, Lionel ‘Max’ Hurst, who disclosed on Friday during the post-Cabinet press briefing the approach government has decided upon for the administering of the follow-up jabs.
“They are going to be very selective with those people who have or are taking immuno-suppressant drugs, so they have an immune system that is compromised and that will take place next week.
“In the meantime, they will also have a roving team that will go especially where the elderly are and administer the drugs themselves to the most vulnerable citizens and residents,” Hurst explained.
A booster is an additional dose of a vaccine given after the protection provided by the original shot/shots has begun to decrease over time.
Cabinet members and parliamentarians were among the first group to receive their booster jab last Wednesday while first responders and other frontline workers received their dose on Friday at the Parliament building.
According to the Cabinet notes, the Antiguan and Barbudan public will be invited in 10 days or more to acquire the booster shot, but Hurst explained that the plan is to ensure that specific groups are catered to before opening it up to the wider population.
“The idea is to get to those who are most vulnerable first, and that’s why there is a 10-day period because we wanted to ensure that, during the week next week, that all those who are on the most vulnerable list are first administered the booster shots. We want everyone in Antigua and Barbuda who is eligible to step forward and take the vaccine,” Hurst said.
Discussions on booster shots have been ongoing in the country for several months with many questioning their efficacy and purpose.
But data last month from the United Kingdom’s Health Security Agency shows top-up jabs boost protection back up to over 90 percent against symptomatic Covid-19 in adults aged over 50.
The USA’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently strengthened its recommendation on Covid booster shots, telling all adults that they should get an additional dose amid growing concern about the new Omicron variant.
The UK also announced an expansion to its booster programme as Omicron cases continue to surge, saying it will make the jabs available to everyone aged 18 and over.
Health experts say while Omicron may make vaccines less effective, the booster dose has been shown to significantly increase the body’s immune response, which will help counter any advantages this variant may have.