Expert explains strategy behind second Covid jab cancellations

1 January 2021, 15:10 | Updated: 2 January 2021, 11:45

By Seán Hickey

Following the cancellation of thousands of second doses of the covid vaccine, this expert explains why the decision was made.

Professor Anthony Harnden is the Deputy Chair of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation.

He broke down for Shelagh Fogarty the reasons for which the Chief Medical Officer Professor Chris Whitty has announced a delay for those waiting for their second dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.

She asked the GP: "You are vaccinating patients today with the Pfizer vaccine in your practice, what are you saying to those with questions about it?"

"It's clear when we look to the data...that one vaccine of the Pfizer gives you 90% protection and that the second vaccine probably is most important for longer term immunity."

Read More: Covid-19 vaccine shortage 'reality' can't be 'wished away', Chris Whitty warns

The deputy chair of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation explained that the change in vaccine strategy was to ensure more people are protected
The deputy chair of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation explained that the change in vaccine strategy was to ensure more people are protected. Picture: PA

Read More: Chris Whitty's vaccine delay 'is unwise - and not the first unwise judgement'

Professor Harnden explained that because of the efficacy of the first jab, the decision was made to inoculate as many people as possible with one vaccine and administer the second when there is a greater stock of vaccine.

"In the short term the Pfizer vaccine one dose is very very safe," he insisted, adding that "it's quite clear that this vaccine gives 90% protection after one dose."

Shelagh wondered if "there a tension now that needs clearing up" to prevent the public worrying about shortages, and to reassure those that have had their second appointment cancelled.

Professor Harnden pointed out that "there are a number of vaccines which were initially licensed for two or three doses" such as the HPV vaccine, until it became clear "that one dose offers a huge amount of protection."

"The way to maximise our prevention of hospitalisations and deaths was to go for this one-dose strategy."

Shelagh insisted that Professor Harnden's explanation "really needs to be explained on a bigger platform" in order to quell any public concern.

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