With booster shot likely, Govt rethinking administration of J&J vaccine to hinterland

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The Guyana Government is rethinking its initial plan of administering the Johnson and Johnson vaccines to far-flung hinterland communities since efforts are underway to include a booster shot for the initially single-dose vaccine.

When the Government had procured these vaccines, it was being used as a single-dose vaccine for full immunisation. As such a decision was taken to send these vaccines to those hinterland locations where only one visit would be needed to administer the vaccine to residents.

But now with a booster shot coming into play, Health Minister Dr Frank Anthony said during a press conference on Wednesday that this strategy will have to be reconsidered.

“While that would’ve been the ideal vaccine for those hard-to-reach areas, the scenario is changing and about two days ago, Johnson & Johnson has now put out some studies where they are saying that you might need a second dose or a booster dose…so they’re now applying to the FDA for a booster dose,” Dr Anthony explained.

If the booster dose gets approved, the Health Minister explained that the effectiveness of the plan to rollout the Johnson and Johnson vaccines to remote areas will be diminished.

“So, if we go out to those hard-to-reach communities too with this single-dose, we’ll have to go back [with a booster dose]. So, we’re having a little rethink on our strategy because in any event, we might just have to give second doses any way for those persons,” he explained.

Back in May, Guyana made a down payment of approximately $7.5 million to the African Union for 150,000 doses of the Johnson and Johnson jab. This arrangement was made through CARICOM.

The first batch of the United States-made vaccines arrived in Guyana on August 23.

However, the Health Minister was unable to say at Wednesday’s press briefing how many doses have been administered to date.

The Johnson and Johnson single-dose vaccine has a 66% efficacy against moderate to severe Covid infections from 28 days after injection.

In addition to Johnson and Johnson, Guyana is also using another US-made jab, Pfizer to immunise its children population.

The other vaccines being used in Guyana are AstraZeneca, Sputnik V and Sinopharm.