COVID19: Booster for J&J recipients as more vaccinated in hospital

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Health Minister Michalis Hadjipantelas said Wednesday that Johnson&Johnson COVID-19 jab recipients would be included in the booster rollout amid an increase in vaccinated patients hospitalised.

The cabinet also decided the current epidemiological picture warranted an extension of the existing measures against the spread of coronavirus until November 9.

The Health Minister said people vaccinated with the one-dose Janssen jab would be eligible for a booster shot provided they are over the age of 60, belong to a vulnerable group, are health workers or resident at a nursing home.

After being presented with Ministry of Health data, it was approved by the cabinet, showing that for July-October, 8.6% of cases reported and 4.2% of hospitalised patients had received the Janssen vaccine.

People opting for a booster shot can choose to take a second J&J jab or go for a booster shot with an mRNA vaccine.

Earlier in the week, Dr Christos Petrou, advisor on the vaccination rollout, told Phileleftheros daily that “People who have taken the Johnson vaccine should not be feeling safe”.

He urged authorities to call all people vaccinated with a J&J jab to get a booster shot.

Scientists advised authorities to push forward with the country’s COVID-19 sluggish booster shot rollout as the number of vaccinated patients needing hospitalisation rises.

According to reports, the percentage of vaccinated people landing in ICUs is steadily increasing, as 40% to 50% of patients are fully vaccinated.

At the same time, the average age of ICU patients has increased to 69, an indication that immunity in older people is waning.

The booster shot programme was rolled out in early September, catering to people aged 60 and over.

So far, just 33,000 has a booster jab; 6,000 are either health professionals or belong to a vulnerable group.

Some 185,000 people over the age of 60 have been fully vaccinated.

Scientists advising the government on handling the coronavirus outbreak also want authorities to reconsider how rapid testing schemes are conducted.

In comments to Phileleftheros, Dr Constantinos Tsioutis said: “We should be focusing on administrating booster shots to the people who run a higher risk of developing serious illness while adjusting our testing scheme to today’s epidemiological data”.

“It’s time to rethink the population groups that are being screened because we all now know that the vast majority of the vaccinated population are rarely tested, or never tested, while around 35% -40% of people infected are vaccinated”.

Cyprus has reported 123,708 COVID-19 cases and 570 deaths since March 2020.

Currently, 36.84% of the 57 people in hospitals with COVID-19 are fully vaccinated.