COVID-19 in Fiji: Infection offers limited protection against other variants

People who have had COVID-19 are likely to have immunity for at least six months but this protection is limited against other variants of concern thus need to be vaccinated still, and need not wait until after 90 days to get jabbed as previously advised.

Fiji’s Permanent Secretary for Health Dr James Fong said whilst prior infection offers some protection, the same cannot be said with certainty against other variants.

One such variant referred to as Lambada, first identified in Peru and spreading to South America, is said to be more infectious than the Delta variant that is causing havoc in Fiji having infected more than 33,000 people and killed 270 of them including an 11-month-old baby since the April outbreak.

As such, being vaccinated offers another layer of protection, which can now be taken once previously infected persons have completed their 14 days of isolation as per the World Health Organisation’s latest advice.

“The World Health Organisation has reviewed the current advice that recommends a waiting period of 90 days before a person previously infected with COVID-19 should receive a COVID-19 vaccine. Based on updated evidence, and advice from WHO’s Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on Immunization (SAGE), and established practice in other countries, the Ministry of Health and Medical Services now advises that all those who have recovered recently from COVID-19 or presumed COVID-19 are eligible for vaccination once they have completed 14 days of isolation and recovered from acute illness,” Dr Fong said.

The availability of vaccines, safety data, the need for broader protection and the highly transmissible nature of the Delta variant, he says compounds the need to take heed and receive the jab in line with the revised timeframe.

As of 8 am today, 85% of Fiji’s target population has received at least one dose of the vaccine and 27% have received at least one dose.

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