Health Ministry awaits WHO Recommendations on Booster, Mixing of Vaccines

Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Jacquiline Bisasor McKenzie has said that at this time there is no recommendation from World Health Organization (WHO) to support booster doses or the mixing of vaccines. The emphasis remains on the administration of first doses to as many persons as possible and persons should take the same vaccine for their second dose.

“The vaccines continue to show high levels of protection against severe illness, hospitalizations and deaths after primary immunization and also against variants. At this time, there is no recommendation for mixing of vaccines. The recommendation from the WHO is to take the same vaccine as your second dose, “noted the CMO.

“We note that mixing is happening in some countries and the information is changing as more studies are done. A second dose of Pfizer after Astra Zeneca has been shown to produce good response. This is promising. Larger studies are needed however to formulate recommendations. We expect that the anticipated SAGE recommendations will provide further guidance,” Dr.  Bisasor McKenzie further added.

Additional dose for immunocompromised

The Strategic Advisory Group of Experts (SAGE), the principal advisory group to WHO for vaccines and immunization has recommended that moderately and severely immunocompromised persons should be offered an additional dose of all WHO Emergency-use Listing COVID-19 vaccines. 

At the same time, no recommendations from SAGE have been given on time intervals between full vaccination and an additional dose.  In the case of AstraZeneca, no time interval has been given for the third dose, but the Ministry anticipates the full recommendations shortly.

The group of persons considered immune compromised are: Transplant patients; Patients with active cancers; Persons on chronic dialysis; Severe primary immune suppressive disorders; AIDS patients with cell counts <200 cells; Persons on immunosuppressants for other disorders e.g. High dose steroids, methotrexate

Persons to which this applies are asked to obtain a letter from their physician, or physicians who treat these special populations may contact the health departments to submit the names of their clients so arrangements can be made.