While the Superior Health Council is not recommending a second booster vaccine dose against Covid-19 for the general population for now, it is not ruling out an extra shot for next winter.
Belgium's Vaccination Taskforce asked the Supreme Health Council for an opinion on the need for a second booster, or for many what would be the fourth dose. The Council has now stated that the epidemiological situation in Belgium is not worrying at the moment, and the scientific models do not predict any effect of a potential extra booster dose on the number of hospital admissions.
"At present, the Council does not recommend a second booster dose for the general population," the report stated. It currently also does not recommend "a systematic second booster dose for people over 80 years old and residents of nursing homes and care communities (regardless of age)."
This means that Belgium will likely not decide to administer a dose to care home residents before the summer. But a second booster may still be necessary for next winter, the report said, adding that "no additional safety concerns related to a second booster dose were found" at this stage.
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The data also show that a regular vaccination schedule (including one booster dose) remains effective against hospitalisation, according to the Council.
The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) and the European Medicines Agency (EMA) currently see "no clear evidence" of a significant decline in vaccine protection against serious diseases in adults up to 80 years old with a regular immune system.
Additionally, the timing of possible additional booster doses is "critical" and should be based on the latest epidemiological data from Sciensano and the Belgian predictive models, the Council stressed.
Lastly, the Council underlined the importance of continuing to promote the first booster dose, especially for people aged 65 and over, and for people at an increased health risk from contracting the virus.