St Lucia: The COVID-19 pandemic is not yet over. While we document a decline in the number of reported cases at this time, we must continue to be vigilant and take all precautions to protect ourselves and our loved ones. The relaxation of protocols and the gradual opening of the country do not mean that public health measures are “out of the window.” We must continue adhering to public health measures, including vaccination. The effectiveness of vaccines in protecting against severe disease and death is evident in the significantly reduced hospitalization rate among vaccinated persons.
COVID-19 vaccines were developed to provide protection against COVID-19, its severe complications, hospitalization and death. We are aware that the immunity generated by the vaccine wanes over time, so the virus continues to mutate and become even more transmissible.
More than six months ago, the National Immunization Program introduced a booster dose to individuals 18 years and older, 4 to 6 months after having received the primary series.
As COVID-19 continues to evolve and new variants emerge, there is a need to consider a second booster for certain high-risk groups. A booster provides added protection by increasing the level of immunity against the virus.
In a release dated May 17, 2022, the World Health Organization WHO recommended an extended primary series for persons over the age of 18, especially the high-priority and vulnerable groups. Persons over the age of 50 and people with health conditions that make it harder for them to mount a strong immune response are encouraged to get the second booster.
The second booster is also recommended for persons with the compromised immune system and frontline workers. The second booster can be administered either using the same vaccine platform; or using a different vaccine platform – what is otherwise known as “mix-and-match.” According to the World Health Organization, currently, booster doses are not recommended for children and young adults under the age of 18.
Vaccines can be accessed at ALL Wellness Centers across the island. Currently, the Pfizer and Johnson& Johnson vaccines are available. Logistics are in place to obtain the AstraZeneca vaccine. The pediatric Pfizer vaccine is also expected in the next few weeks. Our little ones need 5 to 11 years to receive the much-needed protection against COVID-19 and its complications.