Booster vaccine from Pfizer or Moderna for all over-65s

Booster vaccine from Pfizer or Moderna for all over-65s
The interval period for the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna vaccines will be decreased to four months. Credit: Belga

All people in Belgium aged 65 and over will be offered a booster Pfizer or Moderna vaccination before the end of 2021, regardless of which vaccine they initially received.

People who initially received the AstraZeneca or Johnson & Johnson vaccine will receive their booster dose at least four months after their last shot was administered. Those vaccinated with Pfizer or Moderna will get their booster dose at least six months after their last jab.

"All people over 65 will be offered an mRNA vaccine. Studies have shown that they are the most robust to provide additional protection," Flemish Health Minister Wouter Beke stated after the Interministerial Health Conference on Wednesday.

In practice, this means that everyone – including those who received AstraZeneca or Johnson & Johnson vaccines – will receive a booster shot from Pfizer or Moderna, the ministers confirmed in a press release.

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"This way, everyone is treated equally regardless of the previous vaccine interval," the authorities said, adding that it means that everyone will be invited before the end of the year.

Due to a sometimes weaker immune response after a few months, elderly people are more at risk of declining protection against severe Covid-19 disease, the ministers explained.

Additionally, all people (including those younger than 65) with Down's syndrome are being added to the group of immunocompromised people who are already getting a third dose.

For the other people under 65 who have been fully vaccinated, current scientific studies show that their protection against hospitalisation and serious illness remains sufficiently high.

"A booster is therefore not necessary for them now," ministers said, adding that the ongoing studies are being closely monitored by the Belgian authorities.

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