Concern over the Omicron coronavirus variant has led some countries to expand their booster programmes. With the Covid variants surging coronavirus infection and the fear of Omicron variant emerging from Africa, several nations are inoculating a section of their eligible population with a booster dose.
The WHO has recommended that individuals with weaker immune system and the senior inidividuals should be first offered the additional booster dose.
As many as 36 countries are now administering booster doses of the Covid vaccine, according to Our World in Data. Germany, Austria, Canada and France are among the first few countries to begin administering the booster shots.
The WHO said last week current data does not indicate that COVID-19 booster shots are needed and that the most vulnerable people worldwide should be fully vaccinated before high-income countries deploy a top-up. It further stated that booster doses may be needed only if “there is evidence of insufficient protection against these disease outcomes over time.”
Here are some of the options countries and regions are considering:
U.S. health regulators on Nov. 19 expanded eligibility for booster shots to all fully-vaccinated adults.
Canada's National Advisory Committee on Immunization is recommending booster shots of an authorized mRNA vaccine to those who are moderately or severely immunocompromised.
The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), on Nov. 24 recommended vaccine boosters for all adults, with priority for those over 40.
Egypt will activate within days a plan to offer vaccine booster shots for senior citizens, people with chronic diseases and healthcare workers, the health ministry said on Nov. 24.
In India, A consortium of 28 laboratories to monitor genomic coronavirus variations has recommended the centre to consider COVID-19 booster dose for those who are 40 years and older amid the threat of Omicron, a new variant of concern. India has reported two cases of Omicron infection.
Israel was the first country to make a third booster dose of an mRNA vaccine against Covi-19 available for the elderly.
The Boris Johnson government in Britain extended booster programmes to younger people. The Joint Committee on Vaccination has also said that the age group of 40 to 49 will also be eligible for booster shots six months after their initial dose.
Austria will offer booster dose after 6 to 9 months of first vaccination for the people aged 65 and above and to anyone who received Johnson & Johnson or Oxford/AstraZeneca shots as their initial vaccine. It has registered 50,000 booster vaccination to those at risk.
Belgium has agreed on providing booster doses to all eligible citizens.
France began giving booster doses from Sep for people aged 65 and above.
Germany said that it would also start offering booster doses six months after receiving their previous jab.
Australia and New Zealand began administering Pfizer COVID booster shots in November to fully vaccinated adults.
Apart from these, other countries that have started or will start giving booster jabs include: Hungary, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Sweden, Cambodia, Chile, China, Denmark, Finland, Indonesia, Italy Hong Kong, Singapore, Brazil, Bahrain, South Korea, Turkey, Uruguay, Ecuador, Mexico, El Salvador, Switzerland, Nigeria, Morocco, Portugal, Bulgaria, Poland, Russia, Romania, and Norway.
Pfizer/BioNTech, as well as Moderna, received FDA authorisation for the use of booster doses of their vaccines for all adults on Nov 19.
Regulators had previously authorized boosters for all recipients of Johnson & Johnson's one-dose vaccine, two months after their primary dose.
The European Union's drug regulator (EMA) authorised the use of Moderna and Pfizer COVID-19 booster shots for over-18s, at least six months after the second dose.
(with inputs from sources)
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