Jabs still vital in fight against Covid-19

File photo.
File photo.
Image: Sebabatso Mosamo

Despite welcome indications that the world is beginning to normalise, the nightmare of the Covid-19 pandemic remains very much with us.

Evidence is now emerging in SA and abroad that the efficacy of Covid-19 vaccines wanes over time, meaning people once more become vulnerable to the disease.

This is particularly alarming for high-risk groups, including those working on the health frontline.

There is no doubt that the vaccines have been a game-changer.

While being vaccinated does not eradicate the chance of being infected, it reduces the likelihood of being admitted to hospital by 73-90% and the chance of dying by between 91% and 95%.

The risk of transmitting the virus to others is also lowered.

However, it is becoming apparent that some will need booster jabs.

While Britain has a high vaccination rate, it is experiencing a sharp rise in infections as winter sets in.

Closer to home, the death of 21 fully vaccinated nurses and two doctors in the Eastern Cape has sounded alarm bells for healthcare professionals, who were the first to receive vaccines.

About 500,000 healthcare workers were injected with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine in February, and there is evidence suggesting their immunity against the virus has declined.

This is highly concerning because Covid-19 infections are expected to rise as a result of electioneering, while a fourth wave is anticipated for later this year, spurred on by festive season activities.

Thankfully, the government is working on a plan with the SA Medical Research Council and health minister Joe Phaahla has said healthcare workers and people who have compromised immunity may soon receive booster shots. 

Meanwhile, there has been a slow start to the drive to vaccinate 12- to 17-year-olds, with just 2,397 youngsters registering in the Eastern Cape.

Hopefully, these numbers will swell in coming months.

It is also particularly important that those who are over 50 step forward to secure their health.

It is disheartening that so many months later, Covid-19 continues to cast its grim shadow over our lives, but it has to be a case of “la luta continua” until SA and the wider world achieve the level of immunity that will allow us fully to return to our normal way of life.

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