SLMA makes urgent call to obtain booster shot

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With two more months remaining for the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine to expire, the Sri Lanka Medical Association (SLMA) appealed to the public to hasten and obtain the first booster (third dose) of Covid-19 vaccine to prevent further increase of the BA.5 sub variant of Omicron.  

Speaking to the media,SLMA Head of the Department of Community Medicine Prof. M.C. Weerasinghe yesterday (15) said there were at least five to six million who were yet to take the first booster of the Covid vaccine.

So far only eight million of the population who obtained the first two doses of the Covid vaccine have taken the first booster dose. “Although there is a wide appeal for the public to take the second booster dose there is a large percentage which has not even taken the first of the booster doses. This is a call to them,” he said.

Prof. Weerasinghe said that those above 60 years of age, those with comorbidity and have immune deficiencies should obtain the vaccine urgently. On Saturday (13) alone there were 181 cases and five deaths considering the high infectiousness of the BA.5 one can only think as to how many more people the disease would have spread from the said 181 cases on Saturday (13) alone.

He urged the public to also practice health safety measures as much as possible. “We know that it is difficult to do so considering the present economic difficulties, fuel issues that assail the country. One cannot practise one metre distancing while travelling in overcrowded  buses due to the prevailing fuel crisis,” he said urging the public to do what was possible and wear the mask, wash hands once they reached their destination.

With the children and elderly parents people should start thinking once more that they should not take Covid home and start re-practising 2020 and 2021 their behaviour patterns and habits.

Fielding questions, Prof. Weerasinghe said that with schools commencing from 15 August 2022 (yesterday) parents and teachers and students should use the experience that they gained during the past two years. When schools closed in March 2020 no one knew what to do as there was no past experience to rely on. But living with the highly contagious disease for two years, the school community should be able to cope and ensure that schools don’t have to close again. He appealed to parents “not to send their children to school” if they or anyone at home had symptoms.   

Paediatrician, Dr. B.J.C. Perera said that 90 per cent children did not suffer complications. “But they are mostly able to spread the disease more, he said. 

The SLMA celebrated the first anniversary of ‘Doc 247’ help line which was initiated as means of assisting Covid patients in 2021. Consultant Physician National Institute of Infectious Diseases, Dr. Ananda Wijewickrema said that the hotline had greatly assisted in minimising the number of hospital admissions. There was large number of admissions of patients with mild and moderate symptoms who could have been managed at home.

He said that it had least hospital congestion so much so that serious cases of Covid received the care that was required.   

By Dilanthi Jayamanne