HCMC recommends Covid vaccine shots for new subvariant

By My Y   January 26, 2024 | 02:33 am PT
HCMC recommends Covid vaccine shots for new subvariant
A health worker extracts a Covid-19 vaccine bottle at the National Hospital for Tropical Diseases in Hanoi. Photo by VnExpress/Giang Huy
HCMC has recommended the elderly, pregnant and those with underlying conditions get full doses of Covid-19 vaccines as the threat of a new variant looms.

Le Hong Nga, vice director of the HCMC Center for Disease Control (HCDC), said Thursday there had been no evidence to show that the Covid-19 subvariant JN.1, which had been detected among hospitalized cases in the city in December last year, harbors increased risks to community health compared to other variants.

Nga said once someone got Covid-19, their symptoms tended to be similar no matter which coronavirus variant infected them.

"The severity typically depends much on one’s immune system and general health," Nga said, adding that the rise of the JN.1 subvariant in certain countries showed that the strain was either more contagious or better at hiding from the immune system.

As such, HCDC has recommended vulnerable groups, such as elderly people, pregnant women and those with underlying conditions should to get vaccine shots and manage their condition well.

The health sector will also check for people who live with members of vulnerable groups which have not been fully vaccinated, and encourage them to get their shots as well. HCMC currently provides Covid-19 vaccine shots every day at medical stations in 22 districts of Thu Duc City.

Previously, Hoang Minh Duc, deputy head of the General Department of Preventive Medicine under the Ministry of Health, said those who should be prioritized to get Covid-19 vaccine shots are people aged 50 and above and those with chronic diseases, citing latest guidelines by the WHO. Pregnant women are the next prioritized group, he added.

The WHO is currently monitoring five variants of interest, XBB.1.5, XBB.1.16, EG.5, BA.2.86, and JN.1. With the latest monitoring results in December, all variants except EG.5 have been detected in HCMC.

A subvariant of the Omicron BA.2.86 variant, JN.1 is contributing to an increase in cases and deaths in several countries, including Thailand. It is the fastest growing and dominant variant in the U.S. as of last month.

According to the WHO, JN.1 has new antigenic characteristics that allow the virus to easily attack the immune system, leading to faster transmission. Consequently, it quickly became dominant among the Covid variants causing global illness. However, there is no evidence to suggest that this variant causes more severe illness than other Omicron subvariants.

Globally, JN.1 is currently the most circulating subvariant and has been reported by 71 countries.

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