Those who have had two Covid-19 jabs can now get a booster shot – but there are some snags

play article
Subscribers can listen to this article
Three of its shots work against omicron, Pfizer has said, but two are significantly less effective.
Three of its shots work against omicron, Pfizer has said, but two are significantly less effective.

It's something that more and more countries are doing: insisting on booster shoots for those who have been fully vaccinated against Covid-19.

And it was only a matter of time before SA would follow suit. Now, amid the rapid rise in infections and deaths driven by the omicron variant, the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (Sahpra) has said over-18s who have received both Pfizer jabs can get the booster shot.

But there's just one snag. The Department of Health still has to communicate how this will work exactly.

Read more | Not sure if it's regular flu or Covid-19? Here are ways to spot the difference between the two

In October, the department opened vaccinations to teenagers aged 12 to 17. But people over the age of 18 year who have received two shots of the Pfizer vaccine and are keen to up their protection against the coronavirus with a third jab may have to wait till next month for clarity from government.

Even if you're considering getting a booster shot this side of the year, it may be too soon to get one if you only recently became fully vaccinated anyway, according to Sahpra, because individuals must wait for at least six months after their second dose. 

For the Pfizer vaccine, only one shot is given to children between the ages 12 and 17 in South Africa. However, Sahpra has approved a booster vaccine for immunocompromised children within 28 days after a second shot and for immunocompromised adults at least 28 days after the second dose. 

If you received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine and are wondering if you can take the Pfizer booster shot, the answer is no, as Sahpra has not yet decided on mixing and matching vaccines yet, saying the third dose must be of the same vaccine as the initial course. 

Preliminary laboratory studies show that three doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine neutralise the omicron variant, even though two doses still have significant efficacy against it.

“Although two doses of the vaccine may still offer protection against severe disease caused by the omicron strain," says Albert Bourla, chairman and CEO of Pfizer, "it’s clear from preliminary data that protection is improved with the third dose of our vaccine.” 

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For only R75 per month, you have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today.
Subscribe to News24