CAPE TOWN, Dec 8 (Reuters) - South African health regulator SAHPRA on Wednesday approved a third or booster shot of Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine for adults and children over the age of 12 years as the country braces for a fourth wave.
In October, health minister Joe Phaahla said South Africa would start vaccinating children between the ages of 12 and 17 using the Pfizer vaccine, although the government would only give teenagers a single shot of Pfizer's normal two-shot regime due to concerns that it may affect the heart.
The South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (SAHPRA) said it had received an application from Pfizer to amend the dosing schedule for its Comirnaty vaccine, and had subsequently agreed to allow a third dose in individuals aged 18 years and older, to be given at least 6 months after the second dose.
SAHPRA also approved a third dose in individuals aged 12 years and older "who are severely immunocompromised" and to be administered at least 28 days after the second dose.
"The data provided only dealt with the situation of homologous boosting, where the third dose is of the same vaccine as the the initial course (in this case, two doses)," SAHPRA said in a statement.
The regulator said it was aware of the interest in the efficacy and safety of so-called "mix-and-match" approaches and invited submission of supportive data in this regard.
Pfizer and J&J's single shot are the mainstay of South Africa's mass coronavirus inoculation programme, which is struggling to reach a target of vaccinating 70% of the adult population by the end of December as the new Omicron variant drives a fourth wave of infections. (Reporting by Wendell Roelf; Editing by Kevin Liffey and Angus MacSwan)