Dominican Republic giving third COVID-19 vaccine dose in move to stave off new virus variants - Metro US

Dominican Republic giving third COVID-19 vaccine dose in move to stave off new virus variants

FILE PHOTO: People wear face masks inside a military hospital where the first case of the novel coronavirus in the country is being looked after in Santo Domingo

SANTO DOMINGO (Reuters) – Dominican health authorities will on Thursday begin distributing a third dose of COVID-19 vaccine in an effort to protect against more contagious new variants of the coronavirus.

The additional dose will be voluntary and will first be made available to medical professions, health officials said. The campaign will then move to older adults and those with health conditions that make them vulnerable to severe COVID-19.

“The potential benefit far outweighs the possible collateral effects of a booster dose,” said Health Minister Daniel Rivera in a news conference on Wednesday.

People who received the AstraZeneca vaccine will get the third dose 12 weeks after their second shot. Those who received Sinovac Biotech’s vaccine can get a third shot one month after their second dose.

The Dominican Republic is facing a new surge in COVID-19 cases that has strained hospitals and sparked fears that new more easily transmissible variants of the virus could prolong the pandemic. The country, however, has so far reported 3,822 deaths from COVID-19 with a 1.18% fatality rate, one of the lowest in the region.

The Pan American Health Organization, the regional office of the World Health Organization, has said there is no scientific evidence that more than two doses of COVID-19 vaccines were necessary.

Just under half of the Dominican Republic’s 10.5 million people have received at least one vaccine dose, according to government data. The country has distributed COVID-19 vaccines from AstraZeneca, Pfizer/BioNTech and Sinovac.

The government did not include those who received the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, which started arriving on June 11, in the third dose plan. Some laboratory studies and real-world data have shown the mRNA-based vaccine to be protective against concerning virus variants.

(Reporting by Ezequiel Abiu Lopez; Writing by Cassandra Garrison; Editing by Bill Berkrot)

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