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Booster plans expanded to combat Omicron

As booster jab campaigns against COVID-19 are expanded in many countries, data from Israel backs up the benefits of being boosted

COVID vaccine

Plans to accelerate and expand booster programmes against COVID-19 are being announced across the world as countries seek to counter the threat posed by the new variant of concern, Omicron.

The UK will now offer all adults a booster jab by the end of January the government has announced. Previously, the scheme was restricted to those aged 40 or over and younger people who were vulnerable or exposed to the virus through their work. Now, all adults 18 and over are eligible, with the waiting time after the second dose of the primary vaccine course reduced from six to three months.

The UK government has also announced plans to expand the availability of booster jabs with new hospital hubsand pop-up centres, and by using 1,500 community pharmacies.

“Our best weapon to fight the virus is to get as many jabs in arms as possible,” said UK Secretary of State for Health and Social Care Sajid Javid. “This is a national mission and we all have a role to play – so step up, roll up your sleeves, and get protected when the time comes.”

Across Europe, countries were already expanding their booster rollouts prior to the arrival of Omicron due to a surge in COVID-19 cases. Over the past two weeks, Germany has expanded booster shots to all adults, while France and Italy has said it would make booster jabs available to all adults, five months after their second dose.

The EU has also announced that from 10 January 2022 all travellers entering the EU must  have either received a booster dose or had their second jab within nine months. Plans are also being formulated for boosters to be recognised in vaccine certificates.

In the US, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is urging everyone aged 18 years and older to come forward for a booster shot. Last week, health regulators expanded the eligibility for booster shots to all adults aged 18 and older six months after their initial Pfizer or Moderna vaccine or two months after their Johnson & Johnson shot.

Although it has not been confirmed by the company, US media is reporting that Pfizer plans to apply for the regulator to approve booster shots for 16- and 17-year-olds in coming days. The Wall Street Journal is reporting that the US Food and Drug Administration could approve booster doses for this age group as soon as next week.

Israel, which has brought in a two-week entry ban on non-Israelis and a system of quarantine for all Israelis entering the country, is at the forefront of vaccination efforts. In fact, people are now only considered to be fully vaccinated when they have received a booster.

Also, due to its vanguard position, data from the country is informing decision-making across the world, especially in relation to the waning protection of the existing COVID-19 vaccines.

The data shows stark differences between those who have been vaccinated – and boosted – and the unvaccinated, especially regarding the all-important data about severe disease. Among the hospitalised, Israeli officials say the rate of people 60+ in serious condition who had only had two doses of the vaccine was five times that of those with three shots.

Article by
Hugh Gosling

1st December 2021

From: Healthcare

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