The approval by the British medical regulator of both the Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccines to be used as booster shots moves Cayman a step closer to offering boosters to local residents.

The UK’s Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency announced Thursday, 9 Sept. that it had given the green light for the Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccines to be administered as boosters, although a final decision on their rollout has yet to be determined.

Speaking at a Cayman government press briefing later in the day, Governor Martyn Roper said, “I know many of you who came forward for your vaccine early in the rollout programme are eagerly awaiting news on if and when we will be offering you a booster, so it is excellent news that … the UK Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency has granted emergency approval of Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccines to be used as booster shots.”

The governor said the UK had given assurances that Cayman would be given sufficient vaccine “for a matching booster programme… we may push to go even further than the UK, given our very low levels of community transmission”.

Asked earlier in the week if Cayman could deviate from the UK’s eventual booster rollout plans and make its own decision on when to begin giving those doses, the governor responded that, as these islands receive their vaccines from the UK, Cayman would need to abide by advice from London.

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However, he said the UK government did recognise that Cayman’s context is different to that of Britain, “so, I think … once we know London’s decision on boosters, there is flexibility over how we roll them out here.”

June Raine, chief executive of the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency, said in a statement Thursday, “I am pleased to confirm that the COVID-19 vaccines made by Pfizer and AstraZeneca can be used as safe and effective booster doses. It will now be for the Joint Committee for Vaccination and Immunisation to advise on whether booster jabs will be given.”

Speaking to British media, the UK Health Secretary Sajid Javid welcomed the announcement. He said, “I’m confident our booster programme will start later this month but I’m still waiting for final advice.”

Recent studies have shown that the effect of COVID vaccines wane over time.

One study, published by Oxford University last month, indicated that the efficacy of the Pfizer vaccine against symptomatic infection almost halved after four months. Pfizer acknowledged the data and supports a recommendation for a third dose between six and 12 months after getting fully vaccinated.

Residents in Cayman began receiving their first doses of the Pfizer vaccine in January.

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