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COVID-19 vaccination changes

The Department of Health (DoH) announced changes to its COVID-19 vaccination programme as part of ongoing efforts guided by scientific evidence to increase vaccine uptake in South Africa.

From 23 February 2022 the interval between first and second doses of Pfizer will be reduced from 42 days to 21 days:

  • Reduction of time interval between first and second doses of Pfizer from 42 days to 21 days.
  • Fully vaccinated individuals with Pfizer vaccine are eligible for booster dose 90 days after the second dose.
  • Individuals older than 18 years who have received one dose of the COVID-19 J&J vaccine are eligible to receive a booster dose of the same vaccine or a booster dose of the Pfizer vaccine after an interval of 60 days.
  • Individuals over the age of 18 years who have received two doses of the Pfizer vaccine are eligible to receive a booster dose of the same vaccine or a booster dose of the COVID-19 J&J vaccine at least 90 days after the second dose.

The DoH advises that the decision of which vaccine to administer as a booster should be guided by vaccine availability. Thus, if both vaccines are available at vaccination site, homologous boosting should be preferred, unless the vaccinee requests to receive a heterologous or different booster dose, or has a history of experiencing an adverse event following immunisation.

Practitioners are reminded that all adverse events following immunisation must be reported to their nearest vaccination site or COVID-19 Public Hotline 0800 029 999.

The DoH is updating the Electronic Vaccine Data System (EVDS) to enable individuals who received their primary COVID vaccinations outside South Africa, but are eligible to receive a booster dose, to be registered on the system to receive the booster dose.

More information regarding the date at which the functionality to record such doses on the EVDS will be communicated once this is finalised and available on the EVDS platform.

The DoH advises that:

  • COVID-19 vaccinations may be co-administered with other vaccines. Co-administration of vaccines is essential to increase the immunisation coverage of all vaccines including but not limited to, influenza and human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccines.
  • Whilst the COVID-19 vaccination programme initially recommended a 14-day interval between an individual receiving a vaccine and any other vaccination, this is no longer required.
  • COVID-19 vaccines remain the most effective weapon against the pandemic and provide protection against COVID-19 infection.

Last Updated on 4 Mar 2022 by HPCSA Corporate Affairs