The Seychelles' health authority is looking into the possibility of administering COVID-19 booster shots to curb community transmission in the island nation, said a top official.
The Public Health Commissioner, Jude Gedeon, told a press conference on Thursday that "we are saying that six months after getting the second dose, we will see if a booster shot is necessary and if that is the case it will be given around August."
Gedeon said that "vaccines that will be used for the booster has not been decided yet as we follow the guidelines of other countries that have the ability to do this kind of research. So this is being done for us to know what will be our next step."
Currently, Seychelles, an archipelago in the western Indian Ocean, is doing a survey to find out the immunity level in the community.
Gedeon said that this will also give an indication of the level of effectiveness of the vaccines given.
Seychelles rolled out its COVID-19 vaccination programme in January and to date, 66,543 people have been vaccinated which is 68 percent of the total population of 98,462. Three vaccines have been administered namely Sinopharm, Covishield and Sputnik V.
On the subject of herd immunity, Gedeon said that "the virus has changed from how it was the time it started. We now have several strains and the vaccines we are giving are not stopping people from being infected nor transmit to someone else. What they are succeeding in doing is stopping people from developing severe symptoms if they contract the virus."
Seychelles presently has 1,293 active cases and has recorded 46 deaths up to June 9.
Gedeon said as the weekly rolling average maintains a flattening in the number of cases, all restriction measures will remain in place.
"A sustained flattening of weekly rolling average is not a good thing as it means that community transmission is persisting. We wanted to see it going downwards," he added.
In answering a question on the possibility of private clinics administering vaccines, Gedeon said if a clinic can show that it has the capacity and the competence then a discussion can be initiated.
He pointed out that "vaccines are at the moment being administered by the government in line with the recommendation of WHO (World Health Organisation) that vaccination is serious and must be regulated. There are many counterfeit vaccines which is why WHO insists that countries go through the proper channels to get vaccines for their population."