Last Updated on 2 weeks by Publishing Team
New analysis by Public Health England has shown that 2 doses of COVID-19 vaccines are highly effective against hospitalization from the Delta (B.1.617.2) variant.
The analysis suggests that the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine is 92% effective against hospitalization after 2 doses.
As per the initial guidelines from the World Health Organization, the second dose of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines should be administered at an interval of 8-12 weeks after an individual receives the first dose.
Currently, Fiji is confronted with widespread community transmission that is contributing to a significant rise in the number of deaths due to severe illness from COVID-19.
As a result, the Ministry of Health and Medical Services has made a decision in line with the WHO guidelines to reduce the second dose interval period for the AstraZeneca vaccine to 8 weeks from 12 weeks.
Reducing the second dose interval period of the AstraZeneca vaccines to 8 weeks will provide earlier yet strong protection to reduce severe illness, hospitalization, and death by the COVID-19 Delta variant.
The vaccine works best against mild and severe disease when the interval is 8 to 12 weeks. THE UK STUDY HAS INDICATED THAT WITH THE DELTA VARIANT MOST OF THE PROTECTION AGAINST HOSPITALISATION AND SEVERE DISEASE WITH THE ASTRAZENECA VACCINE WAS EQUALLY EFFECTIVE WHEN GIVEN AT 8 WEEKS THAN AT 12 WEEKS. We currently average 4 to 5 deaths per day which indicates an extremely high level of community transmission in the Central Division that WILL eventually spread to other areas throughout Fiji. Given the escalating nature of the epidemic, everyone needs to take cover as early as possible.
Therefore, administering the second dose at the 8th week does not reduce the effectiveness of the AstraZeneca vaccine and will provide the same level of immunity against the Delta variant.
The decision is validated by the Inter-Agency Coordination Committee in Fiji that comprises of key stakeholders including, World Health Organization, SPC (Pacific Community), Australian Government Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, MFAT, and UNICEF.