Vaccine-plus approach critical in living with COVID, controlling adverse effects: Health

Fifty-two deaths due to COVID-19 recorded in the current wave including the death of a 21-year-old who had no known health condition and was fully vaccinated underscores the need for everyone to live by the vaccine plus approach as well as knowing what the symptoms are and presenting early when one experiences severe symptoms, Fiji’s Ministry of Health says.

In a statement, the ministry said of the 52, the 21-year-old who died on Sunday 16 January was the youngest of seven who had no co-morbidity or pre-existing health condition. The other six were aged between 60 and 92 years. He was also among 50 who either died at home, on the way to a health facility or on arrival to a health facility. Two others died within 24 hours of arriving at a health facility.

Protection offered by the vaccination program, the ministry adds has ensured cases of severe disease and deaths during the third wave are much less compared to the previous wave, but on its own does not provide 100 per cent protection from the virus and its adverse effects including death, urging everyone to live by the vaccine plus approach.

“To live with the virus and control its adverse effects, we need to live by the Vaccine Plus Approach. The Vaccine Plus Approach means that we are collectively and equally responsible for our protection and our health – not just the Ministry of Health and frontliners.”

The Vaccine Plus Approach entails that everyone gets fully vaccinated including getting a booster dose when due plus strictly adhering to COVID transmission suppression protocols which include individual COVID safe measures (masking, physical distancing, avoiding crowds, hand hygiene) and settinga-based measures (social gathering restrictions, indoor capacity restrictions, ventilation and curfews).

“Following the Vaccine Plus Approach means that everyone has a role to play to protect ourselves from the current outbreak as well as future outbreaks from other new variants that can arise. The approach means that the ministy and government will provide the opportunity for all eligible Fijians to access safe and effective vaccines that protect us from severe diseases and deaths due to COVID-19.

“It also means we take responsibility for adjering to the COVID transmission suppression protocols on an individial basis, as well as on a collective basis in all community settings we engage in – whether it is at work, in school, at our ocal house of worship or during a traditional ceremony.”

“We have mentioned in the past that the vaccines are 80% protective against severe disease and death, not 100%. As such, if community transmission is high, rare outcomes will be more visible. Therefore our awareness of the symptoms of severe COVID-19 disease, and early presentation to a health facility when severe symptoms are present, are critical protection measures that we should know and act upon.

“These severe symptoms to look out for are: having trouble breathing (shortness of breath or difficulty breathing), ongoing chest pain, severe headache, confusion, inability to stay awake or wake up, pale, grey or blue coloured skin, lips or fingernails, worsening wakeness, coughing blood.”

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