PAHO/WHO give thumbs up to AstraZeneca vaccine

February 12, 2021
Members of the public go about their business in Half-Way Tree, St Andrew on Tuesday. Health professionals have been stressing the need to wear masks, which studies have found to be critical in containing the spread of COVID-19.
Members of the public go about their business in Half-Way Tree, St Andrew on Tuesday. Health professionals have been stressing the need to wear masks, which studies have found to be critical in containing the spread of COVID-19.

Elderly Jamaicans, 60 years and older, will be vaccinated with the AstraZeneca COVID-19 shot even though there is data suggest the jab offered only "minimal protection" against the South African strain.

A Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO) review team also found the vaccine to be "slightly less effective" against the UK variant and "reduced significantly" for the South African strain.

Jamaica has detected three cases of the UK variant but the South African strain has not been found in the population.

Dr Melody Ennis, director of the Ministry of Health and Wellness's Family Health Services, speaking at a COVID Conversations press conference last night pointed out that the "significantly" reduced effectiveness of the AstraZeneca vaccine against the South African variant is for mild and moderate cases of the novel coronavirus. She said that it is believed that it will have "some benefit" in persons with severe disease.

Two doses will be given to persons, 18 years and older. The shots will be administered eight weeks apart.

Ennis, quoting the PAHO/WHO interim guidelines on vaccination, said that the review has found the immune response in persons over 65 to be excellent. The reviews said that it is safe and effective and should be used by these persons.

The reviewers also said that AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine is safe for people with comorbities such as hypertension and diabetes, as well as persons with compromised immune systems to take the vaccine.

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