Belgium's Superior Health Council recommends an additional vaccination for everyone who has received the single-dose Johnson & Johnson coronavirus shot, including those younger than 65 years.
The protection provided by the single-dose J&J vaccine rapidly decreases and, after some time, no longer provides sufficient protection against the coronavirus, according to the experts of the Council.
"This second shot is viewed as a completion of the vaccination schedule, and is not considered a booster vaccination," Sofie Verdoodt, spokesperson for the Superior Health Council, confirmed to The Brussels Times.
If the authorities adopt the recommendation, the extra dose would be administered after a minimum of two months, with an mRNA vaccine (from Pfizer or Moderna).
In total, roughly 400,000 people in Belgium were vaccinated against Covid-19 with the J&J vaccine. However, some 45,000 of them are over 65 years old, meaning they will get a booster shot regardless of the vaccine they initially received.
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Research and studies abroad have shown that the protection after a J&J vaccination systematically decreases over time, more so than with vaccination with Pfizer or Moderna.
In August, Johnson & Johnson already announced that people who receive a second “booster” dose have up to nine times more antibodies in their blood than those who received just one dose.
Recently, Germany also decided that everyone who received a J&J shot receives an extra dose after only four weeks, and the US is offering an extra shot to everyone who received the jab as well.
Before the summer, the J&J vaccine was particularly popular among young people in Belgium, as only one dose was required to be considered fully vaccinated. Many even subscribed to the vaccine voluntarily, as it allowed them to travel or attend certain events or festivals more quickly.
Verdoodt of the Superior Health Council stressed that "this is purely a recommendation," and that the official decision on whether Belgium will adopt the advice will be made by the Taskforce and the different Health Ministers "probably today or tomorrow."
Additionally, even though extra doses for everyone who received AstraZeneca's vaccine are also being discussed, the Council has not yet issued an opinion on a possible third shot, says Verdoodt.
"There is no decision for AstraZeneca yet. There is still some more room for discussion," she added.