HIV patients target for additional covid19 vaccine doses

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

HIV patients along with other immunocompromised patients have been specifically identified by the Ministry of Health for covid19 additional primary doses.

At the Ministry of Health’s virtual media conference on Saturday, Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh said from next week the rollout of additional doses for people fully vaccinated with Sinopharm, Oxford AstraZeneca, Pfizer and Johnson and Johnson will begin.

He added that at this time it applied to people over the age of 60 and categorised by health status and vaccines.

For the Sinopharm vaccine, a third dose will be administered to healthy people over the age of 60 and people of all ages who were immunocompromised.

For the other vaccines the rollout of an additional dose will cater for people over 60 who fall within the immunodeficiency category.

Deputy director of the Medical Research Foundation of TT (MRFTT) Dr Gregory Boyce said there was a possibility that people living with HIV could be more susceptible to contract covid19 because of a weakened immune system.

He said the strength of the immune system in people living with HIV was done by the measure of the CD4 count, so the higher the count the stronger the immune system and the lower the count the weaker the immune system.

“A lot of the initial studies that looked at susceptibility to covid19 among people living with HIV was inconclusive. The studies were small and we were not able to get good clarity about what the actual susceptibility was, but there has been a recent paper that showed potential increased risk of getting covid19 among people living with HIV, it’s around 24 per cent.

“So, are people living with HIV more susceptible to covid19 infections? The answer is a possible yes. There is always need for more data but I think that the more we study this phenomenon, the more we see there is a greater potential risk.”

Boyce added that people with HIV can also have other health problems such as hypertension and diabetes which can have a negative impact, resulting in severe cases of covid19.

Covid19 vaccines, he pointed, out were safe and effective for HIV patients and called for vaccinations to be increased.

“Covid19 vaccines across the board are safe for people living with HIV and effective, but even though you are vaccinated you should still maintain the three W’s — wash your hands, wear your mask and watch your distance.

“Continue your antiretroviral therapy because it keeps the level of the (HIV) virus in blood down, you keep your immune system at a nice strong level and those things combine the reduce the chances of a bad outcome if you come in contact with covid19.”