Risks associated with revaccination are unknown; widespread vaccination should be priority- scientist

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By Vishani Ragobeer

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The risks associated with getting revaccinated for COVID-19 are still unknown and as such, focus should be on ensuring that all eligible people can access COVID-19 vaccines and become protected from the effects of SARS- CoV-2, the virus that causes the disease COVID-19.

This is the view of Dr. Jacquelyn Jhingree, a Guyanese scientist living in Canada. Revaccination refers to getting vaccinated with another set of COVID-19 vaccines even though you are already fully vaccinated.

“I don’t think it’s necessary,” Dr. Jhingree said, when asked if people should get revaccinated.

She emphasised that all of the vaccines that are in use have been studied in clinical trials and are protecting people from experiencing the severe or life-threatening symptoms of COVID-19.

They are also known to reduce hospitalisations and deaths.

Dr. Jacquelyn Jhingree, a Guyanese scientist living in Canada

The scientist underscored: “Whether it is a single vaccine, multiple doses or different types of vaccines, they have to go through those trials.

“All the vaccines used globally have gone through trials.”

Still, recent travel announcements made by some countries indicate that only travellers who are fully vaccinated with specific COVID-19 vaccines will be allowed entry.

And, there have been concerns that some people, who have been vaccinated with specific vaccines, may not be allowed to travel freely.

As such, some people have considered whether they should get revaccinated with a recognised or accepted vaccine.

But, Dr. Jhingree says that “you can’t just go and take a new vaccine” since adequate studies have not been done to assess whether this is safe. Without these studies, the risk of potential adverse events remains unknown.

Similarly, when questioned by the News Room at a recent briefing, PAHO Assistant Director Dr. Jarbas Barbosa firmly stated: “We do not recommend taking a second vaccine.

“There is no medical need for the health of people to take other vaccines; there are no studies guaranteeing that this is a safe procedure (and) so we do not recommend (getting) vaccinated twice.”

Scores of people eager to receive their second dose of the Sputnik V vaccine at the Ministry of Health compound at Brickdam, Georgetown (Photo: News Room/September 29, 2021)

And, Guyana’s own Health Minister Dr. Frank Anthony also highlighted that there is no medical need for revaccination since being fully vaccinated with any vaccine would already offer the necessary protection.

Safety considerations aside, Dr. Jhingree pointed out the enduring global vaccination challenges that exist.

Many developing countries across the globe have not had equitable access to vaccines due to global shortages while some of the developed countries have been able to stockpile vaccines despite the global shortage.

“I think it is more important to get greater vaccine coverage globally as opposed to giving people an extra set of an entire new series of vaccines when they have already been vaccinated.

“That is not going to get us out of the pandemic,” Dr. Jhingree stated too.

Guyana is not currently permitting revaccination, but the government is exploring several solutions to the emerging restrictions resulting from those travel advisories.

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