Nica Richards

By Nica Richards


What you need to know about getting your Pfizer or J&J booster shot

Booster shots for those who have received their one-dose J&J and two-dose Pfizer jabs will be rolled out in the coming weeks.

Over 17 million people are armed with at least one vaccine dose, the Department of Health confirmed in a briefing on Friday. 

The health department’s Dr Nicholas Crisp said almost half of the healthcare workers who received their Johnson & Johnson (J&J) jabs during the Sisonke programme had received their booster shots. 

Although the update has been slow, with healthcare workers getting sick, 108,000 have so far taken part in Sisonke 2.

A booster shot, Crisp explained, is different from an additional dose of the vaccine. The latter is administered to people – who have immune compromising conditions – 28 days or more after the first dose. 

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Booster shots are given to people six months after receiving their primary dose – in the case of Pfizer, it would be six months after receiving the second dose.  

These additional vaccine treatments are due to antibodies waning some time after receiving a vaccine. 

Pfizer boosters  

On Wednesday, the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (Sahpra) approved booster shots for over-18s.

People who qualify first for the Pfizer booster shot will be eligible to receive their jab after 28 December. 

This is six months from the time the first people received their second dose of the Pfizer vaccine. 

However, because this falls over the New Year’s Eve period, Crisp said the Vaccine Ministerial Advisory Committee (VMAC) would advise on when and how the booster rollout plan would take place. 

This will likely happen in January. 

ALSO READ: Sahpra approves third dose of Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine for over-18s

Crisp added that those aged over 60 would get their Pfizer booster shots first.

J&J boosters

The start of the J&J vaccine rollout had its fair share of hiccups, especially when there was a temporary global shutdown of vaccine vials. 

Crisp said there was a significant amount of J&J jabs stored, but until now, only healthcare workers had received J&J booster. 

Sisonke 2 began on 20 October and will run until 17 December. 

He said the department was working with researchers administering trials in other regions to study how J&J boosters have worked. Sahpra received a data package of J&J booster shot information on Thursday, and would be reviewing the information this weekend, in order for recommendations to be finalised next week. 

Crisp said VMAC was also on standby to make recommendations, and anticipated J&J booster rollouts could begin within the coming weeks, depending on the timing of committee approvals.

He assured J&J boosters would be available to the public “soon”.