Key Points From the Ministry of Health’s Virtual Media Conference – Monday 8th November 2021
• An additional primary dose of a vaccine is given to enhance the immune response of individuals (eg. the elderly and the immunocompromised).
• The additional vaccine dose (whether for persons 60 years and over or immunocompromised) should be the same vaccine product used in the first instance.
• The positivity rate for the COVID-19 virus is above 30% but the Ministry of Health is continuing to monitor the rate. This is according to the Technical Director of the Epidemiology Division Dr. Avery Hinds who has noticed a steady increase in Covid-19 cases between the month of October and November.
• Dr. Hinds said we are accruing positive cases at a faster rate, adding that the cases are spread throughout several Counties. While the positive rates continue to be among persons within the 25 to 49 age group, there is a slight increase in cases among those 25 years and younger.
• Dr. Hinds encouraged persons over 60-years old and those who are immunocompromised to get the additional third dose of the vaccine. These primary doses can be taken 1 to three months after the second dose, or the single dose in the case of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine.
• Reports from the previous flu season seem to indicate that individuals with chronic diseases eg. diabetes, asthma, chronic kidney disease, etc. seem to come forward to be vaccinated while other high-risk groups in the population do not seem to access in the same way.
• A robust vaccination plan is imperative to effectively manage the Influenza virus amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. To do this, the MoH intends to increase the accessibility of the Influenza vaccines to the population using existing and established systems for the distribution of the COVID-19 vaccines.
• The Manager of the Expanded Programme on Immunization Unit, Nurse Grace Sookchand spoke about the benefit of taking the flu vaccine, its availability and precautionary guidelines when taking the flu vaccine and the COVID-19 vaccine.
• As we enter the “flu season” it will become difficult to differentiate between flu symptoms and COVID-19 symptoms. Because of this, continued social distancing, wearing facemasks and handwashing will help decrease incidences of both viruses. (Public Health Guidelines).
• Interested persons can access the Influenza vaccine at all 109 health centres, mass vaccination sites, and private physicians.
• When to take the Influenza vaccine and the COVID-19 vaccine:
– AstraZeneca – Recommended Time: Two weeks before your first dose of AZ or two weeks after your second dose.
– Sinopharm – Recommended Time: Two weeks before your first dose of Sinopharm or two weeks after your second dose.
– Pfizer – Recommended Time: Two weeks before your first dose of Pfizer or two weeks after your second dose.
– Johnson and Johnson – Recommended Time: Two weeks before receiving Johnson and Johnson (J&J) or two weeks after receiving the vaccine.