People Who Have Had COVID Can Delay Vaccine Up To 6 Months, Says WHO

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An NHS worker in North London receives a COVID-19 vaccine as British Prime Minister Boris Johnson looks on. WHO has joined other bodies and public health figures in saying that there is no scientific evidence for a delay in a vaccine’s second dose – as per the recent United Kingdom policy decision.

People who have recently had a confirmed COVID-19 infection can choose to delay vaccination, so as to allow others who are not immune take advantage of initial procurements, WHO has recommended.

Following WHO’s approval of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine last week, its strategic advisory group of experts (SAGE) said that if a person has had a PCR documented SARS-CoV-2 infection within the last 6 months, they may choose to hold off on being vaccinated until nearer to the end of that period.

“SAGE recommends that COVID vaccination be offered regardless of a person’s history of asymptomatic or symptomatic of SARS-CoV-2 infection,” SAGE’s chair Dr Alejandro Cravioto said at a media briefing on Tuesday, where he announced the body’s recommendations for emergency use of the vaccine. He added: “Available data currently indicates that symptomatic reinfection within 6 months of initial infection is rare.”

As a result, people who waive their initial opportunity to be inoculated would encourage the use of the first available vaccines for those who have not yet been exposed to the virus.

Also at the briefing, WHO stated that there was no scientific evidence to support a delay of more than 6 weeks when administering a second dose of the Pfizer vaccine, joining the manufacturer itself and the White House COVID Task Team advisor Dr Anthony Fauci in criticising the UK’s decision to delay second doses by up to 12 weeks.

“It is important to note that there is very little empirical data from the trials that underpin this type of recommendation,” Dr Joachim Hombach, executive secretary of SAGE, said, acknowledging that individual countries may need “to be even more flexible in terms of the administration of the second dose”.

The UK decision was taken in light of surging rates of new infections, which are now among the highest in the world.

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