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COVID-19 Fall Booster Programme Announced

COVID - 19 15 Oct, 2022 Follow News

COVID-19 Fall Booster Programme Announced

The Ministry of Health and Wellness is pleased to announce the start of the COVID-19 fall booster campaign on Monday, 10 October 2022.

“During the month of September, we recorded five COVID-19 deaths in our Islands,” stated the Hon. Sabrina Turner, Minister for Health and Wellness.  “These losses to our community are difficult reminders that we must remain vigilant and do everything in our power to protect ourselves and our loved ones, especially the elderly and immunocompromised, as we work together to end this pandemic” Minister Turner added.

The COVID-19 fall booster programme will be administered using the Moderna bivalent vaccine for adults ages 18 and over, and the Pfizer vaccine for youth ages 16 and 17.  The Moderna bivalent vaccine will be administered as a booster only, and not as part of the primary series (first and second dose).

The fall booster programme will be rolled out by the Public Health Department at the Health Services Authority (HSA) in a phased approach to ensure that priority groups are able to get access to the booster first.  The first priority group who will have access to the booster as of October 10th will be the elderly residents of care homes, followed by elderly residents ages 70+ and frontline health care workers the following week. 

“It is important that we prioritise the elderly living in care homes due to their enhanced vulnerability,” Dr Samuel Williams, Medical Officer of Health, explained. “However, we must also remember that care workers providing assistance to the elderly and immunocompromised in private homes will also be encouraged to get boosted as a way to help protect those persons in their care,” he added.

“Research has shown us that the two doses of the vaccination in conjunction with the recommended booster doses will keep people out of the hospital, so I stress once again: get vaccinated and boosted,” Dr Autilia Newton, Interim Chief Medical Officer, emphasised.

Studies have also shown a decrease in COVID-19 immunity three (3) months after a vaccine or booster dose, especially among the elderly and immunocompromised.  As booster doses help to increase the body’s immune response, they also offer lasting protection against infection.

“It is simple: boosters minimise the chance of serious illness that requires hospitalisation and, subsequently, may lead to death,” stated Minister Turner.

The availability of the Moderna (bivalent) vaccine is also an additional benefit to the fall programme as research has shown that a booster of a different vaccine causes a similar or higher antibody response than a booster of the same vaccine.

“Having access to the Moderna bivalent vaccine is an added bonus for us,” Dr Newton added. “However, it is important to note that the original boosters remain effective against the COVID-19 variants, and research has indicated that the timeliness of when boosters are administered is more important than the type of boosters offered,” she added.

The COVID-19 vaccination and fall booster schedule, as well as the flu vaccine schedule, is available on https://www.hsa.ky/public-health/coronavirus/ .  For more information, please contact the Flu Hotline on 1-800-534-8600 (toll free), 947-3077, or email flu@hsa.ky

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