The CF Medical and Scientific Advisory Committee in South Africa (MSAC) welcomes the news that people from 12 years of age in SA are now eligible for COVID-19 vaccination.
Worldwide, including SA, COVID-19 and the pandemic has had a devastating impact on the health and wellbeing of people with CF and their families. Besides the acute severe illness and complications including death, the indirect consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic through lockdowns have caused major disruption in routine CF care, education and for many families, financial hardship. There is overwhelming scientific evidence that COVID-19 vaccination is safe and the most effective way to prevent the spread of SARS-CoV-2 virus and its complications, especially in vulnerable people which includes people with CF. MSAC therefore strongly recommends that people with CF from 12 years of age, including their families and household members, all get vaccinated as soon as possible against COVID-19 before the anticipated 4th wave arrives.
Worldwide, over 2000 people with CF have been documented to have had COVID-19 of varying severity, of which about one third are children. About a quarter required hospitalisation and 3% needed ICU admission and 1% died. Risk factors for severe COVID in people with CF include low lung function, low BMI, diabetes, and lung transplant. SA has seen 33 cases of COVID-19 in people with CF including 12 children and 2 deaths in adults. Further, the long-term direct and indirect impact of COVID -19 on people with CF is still unknown but could potentially be harmful in many ways. Until this is known, protecting people with CF and their family through vaccination is our best strategy to prevent COVID-19 and its consequences.
A/Prof M Zampoli