LOCAL medical experts yesterday urged Zimbabweans to get COVID-19 booster shots as a protective measure against the raging Omicron variant.
This comes at a time when a new IHU variant of the respiratory disease, which has already affected 12 people has been detected in southern France.
Zimbabwe has in the past few weeks recorded a spike in infections and deaths.
Countries such as the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and India were among the first in the world to roll out a booster shot campaign, offering recipients of the Chinese-developed Sinopharm vaccine booster shots amid concerns that the vaccine was not that effective.
The campaign will see (UAE) citizens denied the right to leave the country unless they have received a booster shot against the coronavirus.
In Zimbabwe, the government has spearheaded the implementation of booster vaccinations with President Emmerson Mnangagwa and his deputy Constantino Chiwenga recently getting a third dose.
Medical and Dental Private Practitioners of Zimbabwe Association president Johannes Marisa told NewsDay that it was imperative for Zimbabweans to get the booster shot to bolster their immunity.
“Immunity for the vaccine usually wears off after six months. So from six to 10 months, you find the immunity of vaccines going down and, therefore, boosts are important since COVID-19 is not showing remission at the moment,” he said.
Marisa said the third doses gave renewed immunity as the COVID-19 variants mutate everyday.
“One can also switch vaccines with no harm. America is one good example and a country that makes use of Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer, Moderna. Anyone can make use of the three as booster shots. In Zimbabwe, we are making use of Sinopharm and Sinovac and this virus is from the same class and made by the same country China, and so we can actually switch across.”
Community Working Group on Health (CWGH) executive director Itai Rusike said:
“Typically, you would get a booster shot after the immunity from the initial dose(s) naturally starts to wane. The booster is designed to help people maintain their immunity for long. The emergence of the highly infectious Omicron variant of concern has prompted the urgent need for the booster jab.”
Rusike said adults who got vaccinated six months ago and those older than 16 could take the booster shots.
Senior Hospital Doctors Association president Shingai Nyaguse said:
“Studies have shown that immunity from initial vaccine doses wanes, hence the push for a booster dose. Studies are ongoing to see how well different vaccines work against Omicron, specifically, but it’s expected a booster should increase immune response to Omicron.”