Give booster shot after 5 months

People wait to be registered for their booster shots at SAPA in San Fernando. - Lincoln Holder
People wait to be registered for their booster shots at SAPA in San Fernando. - Lincoln Holder

THE EDITOR: I congratulate the Ministry of Health on its continuing efforts to encourage residents to take the covid19 vaccine and on mounting an essential booster programme. However, we are at present on the eve or in the early stages of the omicron surge, so I think a lot more emphasis should be placed on promoting the booster shot than is currently being done.

It is vital to emphasise to those who are already fully vaccinated that booster shots are extremely important and provide greatly increased protection against both the delta and omicron variants. I would go so far as to suggest that the Prime Minister addresses the nation, focusing on the importance of boosters to everyone, especially those over 60 and those with several comorbidities. This is what Boris Johnson did in launching the UK booster campaign and it has worked very well.

Giving someone a first shot now is important to the individual and to our long-term effort. However, it would do very little to assist in the effort to keep the healthcare system afloat in the face of omicron. A boosted individual would help a lot more. The booster shot gives more bang for the buck.

I am aware that the ministry has consistently followed WHO guidelines during the pandemic, but I suggest that it would be better to deviate from this and follow the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) recommendation that boosters be given five months after the second dose rather than six.

The booster shot may be optimally effective after six months, but vaccine efficacy wanes continuously rather than in a sudden fall at the six-month mark. By allowing the booster to be taken one month earlier, the ministry will, according to the statistics posted on its website, allow up to 106,000 people immediate access to the shot, rather than spreading this over the next month.

In addition, another 200,000 people would become eligible over the course of the month. This would make a big difference in our response to omicron.

We are in a war with covid19 and in the face of the impending omicron tsunami, even though this variant may cause milder disease in general, the enormous numbers recorded by other countries demand a much more urgent national mobilisation.


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"Give booster shot after 5 months"

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