South Africa commences administering Pfizer and J&J vaccines as booster shots

The health department has provided details on the implementation of boosters to combat the Omicron surge.

On 23 December the South African Department of Health (DOH) announced the implementation procedure for the Johnson and Johnson (J&J) and Pfizer COVID-19 booster shots. The announcement comes while the country battles its fourth COVID wave and the dominating Omicron variant. The Pfizer vaccine booster has been approved by the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (SAHPRA) for all residents with doses available from 28 December. In a statement the DOH noted, “This approval is for the vaccination of people six months after the administration of the second dose (or in the case of immunocompromised people who receive an additional primary dose, after their third dose).” The J&J booster which has now been approved for the public was initially approved for health workers who were part of the Sisonke 2 trails.

People 18 years or older can receive the J&J booster as a single dose, two months after the initial J&J vaccination. The DOH announcement comes after consultation with the Ministerial Advisory Committee on Vaccines for COVID-19. As of 24 December, J&J booster shots will be administered by the National Vaccine Programme to everyone who received their J&J vaccine. The DOH advised that two months after primary vaccination is the recommended interval, however it is preferred that the booster is administered from six months of primary vaccination. The DOH stated, “Booster doses are the same vaccine in the same dose administered to people who have had a primary vaccination series, and are administered to allow the body to boost its immunity to the Covid-19 virus.”