Vaccination rates have been increasing, but more needed - health expert

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  • Covid-19 vaccinations have been increasing this week.
  • However, an expert has warned this is still not enough to fight off the fourth wave. 
  • Immuno-compromised people started receiving extra Covid-19 vaccine doses on Wednesday. 

The Covid-19 vaccination rate, which had slowed down, started rising again this week.  

With news of the new variant, Omicron, spreading fast, more people have been showing up at vaccination sites.  

While researchers are still hard at work studying the new variant, it seems it has spooked people enough to get the vaccine ahead of the fourth wave.

Gauteng and the Western Cape said they were in the early stages of a new wave. 

READ | SA is clearly entering into 4th wave, says top NICD expert - urges those hesitant to get vaccinated

On Tuesday, the country administered 175 395 vaccinations.

On Monday, 116 074 were administered in the last 24-hour cycle, and 11 898 were administered on Sunday. More than 25 million vaccine doses have been administered nationally since the start of the programme. 

Progressive Health Forum convenor Dr Aslam Dasoo said:

Nothing like a threat [of infection] to get people going.

But he warned the positive increase in numbers was still not enough. 

"It's  not enough to make a dent in the fourth wave. The test positivity rate was 1%  last Monday. And it is now in the double digits. We are in the teeth of the fourth wave. Everyone you know is a potential risk to you." 

Dasoo said because of increased community infection, people who could, should test for Covid-19 before getting the vaccine to avoid severe side-effects. 

"If you have the time and the means, go get tested before you get the vaccine. And if you are infected, hold off the vaccine for about a month." 

From Wednesday, South Africans, who are immune-compromised, can have access to additional Covid-19 vaccines. 

To access the extra vaccine doses, people need to take a form filled in by a doctor or nurse to a vaccination site. 

READ | Covid-19: Omicron, fourth wave – experts plead with health workers to get their J&J booster shots

People who qualify for an additional shot are those with haematological or immune malignancy, moderate to severe primary immunodeficiency disorder, HIV infection with a CD4 count of less than 200 within the last six months and asplenia.  

People who receive high dose steroids or systemic biologics for autoimmune conditions, or are on long-term renal dialysis and transplant recipients are also eligible for the additional doses.  

"It is recommended that the additional dose be given between one and three months after the previous dose with the recommended period being at the discretion of the referring clinician.

A health department circular stated:

The advice regarding the recommended interval between the additional and previous doses provided by the clinician on the referral form should be followed by the vaccinator. There is no upper limit with regards to the time interval between the additional and the previous dose.

Dasoo said the need for a doctor's note might deter people from getting the shots.

"Why not open the boosters for everyone who needs it. Open up and use the vaccine doses that we have." 

Booster shots for the rest of the population are likely to be introduced later.

The SA Health Products Regulatory Authority is currently reviewing Pfizer.

Currently, only healthcare workers, who received the one-dose Johnson & Johnson shot, are getting boosters.

If you come across Covid-19 vaccination information that you do not trust, read Covid-19 vaccine myths debunked: Get the facts here. If you can't find the facts you're looking for, email us at the address mentioned in the article and we will verify the information with medical professionals.

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