The updated guide to vaccines: here are the new rules on age limits, first and second doses and possible hitches

The updated guide to vaccines: here are the new rules on age limits, first and second doses and possible hitches
The updated guide to vaccines: here are the new rules on age limits, first and second doses and possible hitches

ROME. The death of Camilla Canepa has imposed the need to define clearer and stricter rules in the administration of the Vaxzevria (AstraZeneca) and Janssen (Johnson & Johnson) vaccines which are based on the use of the viral vector platform.

What are the decisions made by the Scientific Technical Committee on this type of vaccine?

The latest circular from the Ministry of Health “updating” the CTS opinion on vaccines indicates that the Vaxzevria vaccine is administered only to people aged 60 or over with a full course of vaccination, ie first and second dose.

And what was decided for Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen vaccine?

It is recommended for people over the age of 60. However, there was a long discussion within the CTS between those who wanted to equate it with Astrazeneca and those who instead claimed that there was not enough data. Eventually, this line passed. Although considering the similarities with AstraZeneca, the experts wrote in the report, “the current state of knowledge, the number of just over a million doses administered and the rarity” of thrombosis, “do not allow us to draw conclusive assessments with respect to the benefit / risk “.

The Janssen vaccine is single-dose. Can it still be preferred for this reason?

According to the CTS “if specific situations arise in which the advantageous conditions of the single administration are evident and in the absence of other options – the Technical Scientific Committee specified – the Janssen vaccine should preferentially be used, subject to the opinion of the territorially competent Ethics Committee” .

What does viral vector vaccine mean?

They are vaccines that use a virus similar to SarsCov2 but not aggressive (a chimpanzee adenovirus) to which genetic information is added that alert the body’s immune response. In this case, the adenovirus carries SarsCov2’s Spike protein, which is the molecular claw used by the virus to latch onto healthy cells and invade them.

What should I do if I have received a first dose of the Vaxzevria vaccine and are under 60 years of age?

For these people, the ministry’s indication is to complete the cycle with a second dose of mRNA vaccine (Pfizer’s Comirnaty or Moderna), to be administered 8-12 weeks after the first dose.

Will the Regions still be able to organize open-days?

The CTS recommended that the Regions, whenever they promote open day events that raise awareness of anti-Sars-CoV-2 vaccination, respect the indications for age groups, making the approach to vaccination as homogeneous as possible throughout the national territory.

What vaccine should be used in the age group between 12 and 15 years?

The Comirnaty vaccine (Pfizer-BioNtech): it is authorized for subjects aged 16 and above, and more recently it has been authorized by Ema and Aifa also for adolescents from 12 to 15 years.

What technology does it use?

That of the messenger RNA. This technique consists in using the sequence of the genetic material of the new coronavirus, namely ribonucleic acid (Rna), which represents the molecular messenger that contains the instructions for building the proteins of the virus. The goal is to directly administer the mRna that controls the production of a protein against which the immune system is to react. In this case the protein is the Spike ».

What are the recommendations for Moderna?

This vaccine is authorized for individuals aged 18 and over and also uses messenger RNA technology. On June 7, the Moderna company also requested EMA for authorization for use by adolescents aged 12 to 18 for its anti-Covid vaccine “

What effect will the new recommendations have on the vaccination campaign?

According to the numbers provided by the extraordinary commissioner Figliuolo at the CTS, by the end of the month there should still be 7.2 million doses of mRna vaccines (5.8 from Pfizer and 1.4 from Moderna), to which 45 must be added. expected in the third quarter (31 for Pfizer and 14 for Moderna) for a total of 52.2 million. If Curevac’s serum is then approved, by the end of September Italy will have another 6.5 million, for a total of 58.7 million doses of mRna vaccines. A figure that, as Figliuolo said, allows you to go “smoothly” only if there are no other hitches.

What could be the hitches?

There are 3.5 million people over 60 who have not yet been given the first dose of the vaccine. It is not known whether they will decide or what they will choose. Then there is the possibility of having to do a third dose in the autumn becomes more and more concrete as confirmed by the EMA and therefore it will be necessary to develop yet another plan.

How will the Regions have to deal with the new indications?

Health Minister Roberto Speranza specified that there is only one line to follow on vaccines and that is the one indicated by the executive on the basis of the clarifications provided by the scientific community. You cannot follow different paths, therefore, but this is what the president of the Campania Region Vincenzo De Luca has already done, who has rejected the government’s request to administer a different vaccine to those under 60 years of age and obtained a first dose with AstraZeneca. “We do not administer vaccines other than the first dose, based on scientific concerns that we will send to the government” warned De Luca, also announcing another choice contrary to those of the government: the Region at this point will no longer administer viral vector vaccines, therefore Astrazeneca but also J&J, not even to those over 60 years old.

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