PERSONS who received the Russia-produced Sputnik-V COVID-19 vaccine and are interested in traveling to the United States (US) could find themselves in conflict with that country’s policy of not admitting international travellers without vaccines approved by their recognized health regulators.
Specifically, while the Sputnik-V COVID-19 vaccine has been administered in Guyana, the vaccine has not yet received emergency use authorization from neither the World Health Organization (WHO) nor the US-based Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
There might be a possibility, however, for Sputnik-V recipients in Guyana to travel to the US because of a new intervention implemented by Guyanese health authorities which allows for Sputnik-V vaccine recipients to have the US-produced Jannsen (Johnson & Johnson) COVID-19 vaccine.
Health Minister Dr Frank Anthony has been discussing the strategy for COVID-19 booster shots over the last few weeks. However, on Monday, Dr Anthony, during his daily COVID-19 briefing on Monday, outlined just how Guyana will administer booster shots.
The Health Minister said for persons to be eligible to receive the booster shots, they must fall within one of three categories established by the health authorities.
Dr Anthony outlined these eligible categories as persons who are 50 years and over with or without co-morbidities; persons who are 18 years and older with or without co-morbidities; and all healthcare workers who are 18 years and older.
Several vaccines are currently being administered in Guyana including Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca, Jannsen (Johnson & Johnson), Sputnik-V, and Sinopharm. Minister Anthony was cautious in outlining that the booster COVID-19 vaccine taken by persons should be based on the initial vaccines they received.
Persons who received two doses of Pfizer vaccine initially should take the Pfizer vaccine as their COVID-19 booster shot. Persons with two doses of Moderna vaccine, either Pfizer or the Moderna vaccines can be used as a COVID-19 booster shot.
Those who received the one-shot Jannsen (Johnson & Johnson) vaccine should take that same vaccine as the COVID-19 booster shot.
With the Sinopharm vaccine, Dr Anthony continued, once two doses have already been received then the Sinopharm should be used as the COVID-19 booster shot.
For persons that received two doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine, the COVID-19 booster shot should also be AstraZeneca, however, Pfizer can be administered as well. For recipients of the two doses of Sputnik-V, the Jannsen (Johnson & Johnson) could be used as a COVID-19 booster shot.
When asked whether persons who received the J&J booster shot after receiving two doses of Sputnik-V vaccine could have travel access to the US, Health Minister Dr Anthony responded, “yes”.
The Health Minister advised persons to walk with their COVID-19 vaccination cards so that the information regarding the COVID-19 booster shot could be added to the card. The safe period for receiving COVID-19 booster shots is six months after the second dose has been administered for two-dose vaccines and the same period for the one-dose Jannsen (Johnson & Johnson) vaccine.