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Germany recommends booster shots for over-70s

October 7, 2021

The German authority on vaccines has suggested extra vaccine doses for people older than 70, as well as care home workers. It also recommended mRNA booster shots for people who received the J&J vaccine.

Scores of Pfizer-BioNTech vials at a production facility in Belgium
German vaccine officials have recommended mRNA booster shots for several groups of peopleImage: Pfizer/AP Photo/picture alliance

Germany's vaccination authority, STIKO, recommended COVID-19 vaccine booster shots for people older than 70 on Thursday.

All residents of care homes, as well as workers who come into direct contact with them, should also be offered a third vaccine dose, the body said. The same was also recommended for medical workers in direct contact with patients.

STIKO gave its recommendation on the grounds that vaccine protection "declines over time, particularly in terms of preventing asymptomatic and mild infections."

Previously booster shots had only be recommended in Germany for people with a weakened immune system.

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Why are booster shots being recommended?

The reduction in the protection offered by the coronavirus vaccines is greater among those in older age groups. This puts them at greater risk of contracting the disease despite being fully vaccinated, as well as suffering from more serious symptoms.

STIKO said the booster shot should be made available, at the earliest, six months after the completion of the first round of vaccination, regardless of which vaccine was used.

The vaccination body recommended that for those who received an mRNA jab, namely BioNTech-Pfizer or Moderna, the same vaccine should be used for the follow-up shot.

Johnson & Johnson vaccine less effective against delta

STIKO also recommended that people who received the Johnson & Johnson single-dose vaccine, no matter their age, should be offered a second mRNA dose because of the reduced efficacy of the J&J jab against the coronavirus delta variant.

About 3.2 million people in Germany received the J&J vaccine. Data has shown that more people who were received this jab went on to contract the virus than those who received other vaccines.

The booster shot for these individuals can be offered from four weeks after the base immunization.

STIKO's recommendations will first be the subject of discussion among experts and German politicians before they can come into effect.

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ab/msh (dpa, Reuters, AFP)