The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) and the European Medicines Agency (EMA) on Monday issued a recommendation for people between the ages of 60 and 79 years and medically vulnerable populations to get the second booster dose of Covid-19 vaccines this summer and in the upcoming autumn and winter seasons.
According to the EU agencies, amid increasing rates of Covid-19 reporting and rates of hospital and intensive care unit (ICU) admissions and occupancy in several countries, public health authorities in EU/EEA countries should consider an early second booster roll-out for protecting people over the age of 60 years.
“An early second booster roll-out should be considered not only for the population aged 80 years and above but also for adults between the ages of 60 and 79 years and medically vulnerable individuals regardless of age to prevent severe disease and safeguard health system capacity,” ECDC and EMA said.
In April 2022, EMA and ECDC recommended that people over 80 years of age can receive a second booster dose of mRNA vaccines. Both agencies also noted at the time that if there was a significant resurgence of infections, people between 60 and 79 years old and medically vulnerable persons of any age should also be considered for a second booster dose.
New wave is unfolding, People over 60 should be considered
In Monday’s announcement, the two agencies highlighted that as a new Covid-19 wave is currently unfolding in Europe, it is important that public health authorities now consider these groups for a second booster.
“Countries should consider a rapid deployment of second booster doses with currently available vaccines. These could be administered at least four months after the previous one, with a focus on people who received a previous booster more than 6 months ago.”
Stella Kyriakides, the European Commissioner for Health and Food Safety said that the “COVID-19 vaccines work”, and offer good levels of protection against severe illness and hospitalisation.
“With cases and hospitalisations rising again as we enter the summer period, I urge everybody to get vaccinated and boosted as quickly as possible. There is no time to lose,” she said.
Kyriakides called on Member States to roll-out second boosters for everyone over the age of 60 as well as all vulnerable persons immediately and urge everyone eligible to come forth and get vaccinated.
“This is how we protect ourselves, our loved ones and our vulnerable populations,” the Commissioner added.
Fourth dose in the wider population
According to ECDC and EMA, at the moment, there is no clear epidemiological evidence to support administrating a second booster dose in immunocompetent individuals below 60 years of age, unless they have medical vulnerabilities.
“ECDC and EMA will continue to closely follow vaccine effectiveness and epidemiological data and will update advice accordingly.”
The EU’s health and medicine agencies said that their recommendation is based on the assessment of current epidemiological trends and available scientific evidence, and that it is subject to change as more data become available.
“National Immunisation Technical Advisory Groups (NITAGs) will ultimately make national decisions on the use of Covid-19 vaccines, taking into account the epidemiological situation in their countries.”