STIKO to recommend fourth COVID jab for certain population groups
Germany’s Standing Vaccination Commission (STIKO) has announced its intention to recommend a second booster shot - and therefore a fourth jab in total - for certain vulnerable population groups. The expert panel is also backing the new protein-based Novavax vaccine.
STIKO in favour of second booster after promising data from Israel
STIKO said on Thursday that it was in favour of a second booster vaccination for groups that are particularly vulnerable to coronavirus, including those over the age of 70, people in care facilities, people with immune deficiency disorders, and employees in medical and care facilities like hospitals and nursing homes.
“The most recent data from Israel suggests that a fourth dose produces some improvement in protection against infection and a more significant improvement in protection against serious illness,” said STIKO boss Thomas Mertens to the Funke media group.
The move marks something of a breakaway from STIKO’s previous approach towards issuing recommendations, which has been marked by caution. Since data on the effectiveness of four vaccine doses is only available for Israel so far, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) recently stated that there was still not sufficient evidence to say whether or not a fourth dose should be administered.
Israel has been offering a fourth dose to high-risk population groups and people over the age of 60 since the beginning of the year. According to the Israeli Ministry of Health, people who have had four shots are three to five times better-protected against serious courses of COVID and twice as well protected against infections than those who have had three jabs.
German vaccine panel also recommends Novavax jab for adults
On Thursday, the commission also issued a recommendation for the Novavax COVID vaccine to be administered to adults. It is hoped that the protein-based shot, which uses more “traditional” vaccine technology than the novel mRNA shots, might help encourage those who have so far been hesitant to get the jab, and thus boost Germany’s vaccination rate.
STIKO recommended two Novavax doses for adults, administered at least three weeks apart. However, it said that an mRNA vaccine like BioNTech / Pfizer or Moderna, should be used for a booster shot.
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