Third COVID-19 vaccine dose vital for ‘long-term’ protection

Fiji’s Ministry of Health reported an increasing trend in coronavirus cases, a development the ministry’s Permanent Secretary Dr James Fong believes we should not panic about, but instead take measures.

Dr Fong said the prudent course of action would be to encourage more people to take up the booster dose, or the third dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, in particular amongst those eligible. Anyone who has had both doses of a COVID-19 vaccine for at least three months is eligible for the booster dose.

However, as of 23 May less than 30 per cent of those eligible have taken the third injection, prompting the ministry to look at ways in which they can boost numbers.

“I think for the weekend, the staff are trying to establish a small centre up in the Suva market as a pilot process just to see what the traction is there,” Dr Fong said.

The ministry is also considering boosting up its communication awareness outreach to support the booster program.

“A third dose is worth protecting yourself for the long term. While the increase is not obvious on our epidemiological curve graph we are maintaining close surveillance of case numbers. The case trends do highlight the need to escalate our booster dose coverage,” he said.

To keep a tab on COVID-19 trends, the ministry is monitoring hospital admissions and testing for COVID-19.

Booster Dose Numbers (23 May MOH Update)

As of 23 May, a total of 127,951  individuals have received booster doses equating to 29.5% of those eligible for a booster dose.

The booster dose interval for eligible persons has been reduced to three months from the second dose. This is in recognition of the risk of disease surge based on waning 2 doses covid vaccine protection, slow booster uptake, increased international travel with the relaxation of border measures, and ongoing outbreaks in various parts of the world. Moderna vaccine and Pfizer vaccines are both available for adult booster doses.

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