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Government announces reduction of time interval between vaccine doses

The Ministry of Health is announcing changes to the vaccination program, which will take effect from today and Wednesday.

With the guidance of scientific evidence, the changes will help increase the uptake of the Covid-19 vaccine in South Africa.

Booster shots and vaccines

All individuals over 18 years of age taking one dose of Johnson and Johnson (J&J) vaccine is now eligible for a booster dose of a J&J or a Pfizer booster injection, (homologous vaccine), after two months (60 days).

This change will take effect on Monday.

The government also has the time interval between the first and second dose of the Pfizer vaccine.

Those who have been vaccinated no longer have to wait 42 days to get their second dose. This has now been reduced to 21 days and will take effect from Wednesday.

According to the health department, those who have been fully vaccinated with the Pfizer vaccine are now eligible for a booster dose three months (90 days) after the second dose.

The previous waiting period was 180 days (six months).

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EVDS Upgrades

“The decision on which vaccine to administer as a booster should be guided by the availability of vaccines.

“So, if both vaccines are available at a vaccination site, homologous boosting is preferred unless the vaccine calls for a heterologous or other booster dose, or has a history of adverse
event after immunization,” the health ministry said in the statement.

The electronic vaccine data system (EVDS) will be updated so that individuals who have received their primary vaccine doses outside of South Africa and are eligible for booster shots can be registered in the system to receive boosters.

“More information about the date when the functionality to record such doses on the EVDS will be communicated once it is finalized and available on the EVDS,” the department said.

“While the Covid-19 vaccination program initially recommended a 14-day interval between a person receiving a Covid-19 vaccine and another vaccination, this is no longer required,” they concluded.

ALSO READ: UJ students fear being deregistered because of vaccine policy

Compiled by Lethabo Malatsi.

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