Persons scheduled to get their second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine six weeks after the first are now being advised to wait 12 weeks instead.
Health Minister Carvin Malone said this shift is because of a recently-published controlled study on the AstraZeneca vaccine..
The research — which involved 17,178 participants — found that taking the vaccine in 12-week intervals is more efficient.
“The study determined that vaccine efficacy was 81.3 per cent after two standard doses were given 12 weeks apart, versus 55.1 percent when given after two standard doses six weeks apart. That difference was statistically significant,” Malone reported while speaking in the House of Assembly on Wednesday.
“Given that the 12-week intervals are clearly superior, this is the preferred dosing interval advisable by the medical experts and the Chief Medical Officer in the Ministry of Health,” Malone further explained.
He said the BVI Health Services Authority will now contact already-vaccinated persons to change the date they were scheduled to get their second dose of the vaccine.
Over 5,000 vaccinations to date
However, the minister made it clear that persons can stick to the original six-week regime, if they so choose.
“From a legal and ethical standpoint, it is a hope that persons will follow this new regime. And if they are being advised otherwise or chose a smaller dosing interval, [they] should do so with full information of the disadvantages. It’s not that it cannot be done, but it is not the most efficient,” said Malone, who was the first person in the BVI to get the first dose of the vaccine.
He was initially scheduled for the second dose on March 25 but his new return date is May 5.
As of March 10, 2021, a total of 5,031 COVID vaccinations have been administered in the BVI. Of that number 4,113 were administer on Tortola, 770 on Virgin Gorda, 68 on Anegada and 80 on Jost Van Dyke.
Government had suspended vaccinations as it awaited new shipments of the vaccine from Britain. But having since received 2,000 doses from Dominica and been guaranteed its next shipment from the UK on March 17, government resumed vaccinations on Tuesday. The suspension lasted four days.
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