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Feb 27, 2022

There is a common misconception that the Coronavirus (COVID-19) is behind us, and that it doesn’t pose the threat that it did in the past. This is, in fact, untrue. The virus is very much still in our midst, and it continues to mutate into different variants.


Until this day, the COVID-19 vaccines have been the greatest weapon we have against the virus. This is why the Department of Health (DOH) approved booster vaccines in order to improve the efficacy of the vaccines. For medical aid members (including Bestmed Medical Scheme members) the booster vaccines will be funded as a Prescribed Minimum Benefit (PMB) in the same manner as the initial vaccines were funded. 


What is a Prescribed Minimum Benefit (PMB)?

Certain conditions, additional to those on the Chronic Disease List (CDL), are covered as Prescribed Minimum Benefits (PMBs). The medical management and medicines are covered from Scheme benefits. This means that the vaccine costs will not be taken from your day-to-day savings account.


Why administer a booster vaccine?

New research at the David Geffen School of MedicineUniversity of California, Los Angeles, published in the peer-reviewed journal mBioon Tuesday, 7 December 2021, suggests that COVID-19 antibodies not only increase but grow stronger with booster vaccines, even if the vaccines are not specifically targeted at new variants of the disease.
Dr Otto Yang, senior author of the study and professor in the division of infectious diseases and of microbiology, immunology and molecular genetics at the David Geffen School of Medicine, states that “if you get the booster now you will still get some additional benefit against these variants even though the vaccine is not specifically tailored against the variants”.


Moreover, the World Health Organization (WHO), encourages booster vaccines “when immunity or clinical protection has fallen below a rate deemed sufficient to restore vaccine effectiveness.”


Which booster vaccines have been approved in SA?

In light of the above, the South African Health Products Authority (SAHPRA) has approved booster vaccines of the COVID-19 vaccines that are currently available in South Africa. Many healthcare workers have already received a Johnson & Johnson (J&J) booster vaccine. A second dose of the Johnson & Johnson dose, or a third dose of the Pfizer vaccine, i.e., a booster vaccine, is currently offered to adults in South Africa.


Who is eligible for a booster vaccine?

Adults aged 18 years and older are eligible to receive a booster vaccine at least six (6) months after receiving their second dose of the Pfizer vaccine. Additionally, children aged 12 and older, who are severely immunocompromised, may receive a third dose of the Pfizer vaccine at least 28 days after their second dose.


Adults aged 18 years and older are eligible to receive their J&J booster two (2) months after their initial single dose of the J&J vaccine.


Who will pay for your booster vaccine?

As previously communicated, the COVID-19 booster vaccine has been classified as a PMB. This means that the COVID-19 booster vaccine, and the related administration cost, will be regarded as PMB level of care and will be fully funded by Bestmed Medical Scheme, regardless of your benefit option or available benefits.


Where are the vaccination sites?

For a full list of the current active vaccination sites, please visit:https://sacoronavirus.co.za/active-vaccination-sites/.


It is the responsibility of the establishment that is administering the vaccine to capture the necessary billing information for full reimbursement from the Scheme.

Bestmed encourages you to receive your COVID-19 booster vaccine as soon as you are eligible. This will help South Africa fight against the spread of the disease.


We are committed to supporting you. If you have any queries, you are welcome to us at 086 000 2378 or email service@bestmed.co.za.


References
https://journals.asm.org/doi/10.1128/mBio.02656-21

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