A new circular has been published by the National Department of Health, detailing adjusted Covid-19 vaccine rules. This includes adjustments to dosing intervals and introducing “mix-and-match” dosing for adults.
These updated vaccine rules are only addressed with the Pfizer Cominarty and the Johnson & Johnson Janssen vaccines. The circular did not provide any guidelines for the recently introduced Sinopharm vaccine.
New vaccine rules to be introduced
Dr Sandile Buthelezi, the director-general for health, announced the following changes:
Anyone who receives their first Pfizer vaccine can now get the second dose after only waiting 21 days. Previously, people had to wait 42 days – this will be implemented from the 23rd of February.
Anyone that already received their second dose of the Pfizer vaccine can now get their third booster dose after only 90 days. Previously, people had to wait 180 days before receiving the booster.
Johnson & Johnson
From the 21st of February, any person that received their first dose of the J&J vaccine can now get their second booster dose after waiting 60 days.
Starting from 23 February, South Africans will be allowed to mix and match the Pfizer and J&J vaccines. This still depends on availability, however.
- People who have received one dose of the J&J vaccine can get a dose of the Pfizer vaccine after 60 days
- People who have received two doses of the Pfizer vaccine can get a dose of the J&J vaccine after 90 days
The department is making this option available to adults over 18, however, when possible, it still recommends getting the same vaccine type.
“If both vaccines are available, homologous (same vaccine) boosting should be preferred, unless the vaccine requests to receive a heterologous (mixed vaccine) booster dose, or has a history of experiencing an adverse event following immunisation,” the department said.
Other vaccine updates
Under the new rules, Covid-infected patients who show no symptoms, do not need to isolate. However, they should still:
- Wear a mask whenever interacting with people, for the next five days from the date of the test;
- Avoid social gatherings (3 or more people) for five days from the date of the test;
- Try not being in indoor spaces with others, for five days from the date of the test;
- Avoid socially interacting with the elderly and anyone with co-morbidities for five days from the date of the test.
Patients who tested positive and are showing symptoms should isolate for seven days from the date when their symptoms started.
And finally, all quarantine and active contact tracing will be stopped. This applies to everyone including healthcare workers.
EVDS is busy with an update
The health department also added that all vaccine doses must still be recovered in the Electronic Vaccination Data System (EVDS). And at the moment, the system is also being updated to allow those who did not receive their first vaccination in South Africa to register. This way, they will be able to receive their booster shots in the country.