Factbox-Countries weigh need for COVID-19 booster shots

FILE PHOTO: An Israeli man receives a third shot of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine in Tel Aviv, Israel August 30, 2021. REUTERS/Amir Cohen
FILE PHOTO: An Israeli man receives a third shot of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine in Tel Aviv, Israel August 30, 2021. REUTERS/Amir Cohen

(Reuters) - Many countries are expanding COVID-19 vaccine booster programmes or shortening the gap between shots as governments scramble to shore up protection against the Omicron variant.

Some countries are also already deploying a fourth dose amid concerns of waning protection.

Studies have shown an initial course of COVID-19 vaccines - typically given in two doses - may not be enough to halt infection from Omicron, but a booster shot may help.

The World Health Organization has said in recent months that administering primary doses - rather than boosters - should be the priority, though it has recommended boosters for those with health issues or who received an inactivated vaccine.

Here are some of the options countries and regions are considering:


** Belgium has authorised a fourth dose for the immunocompromised

** Cambodia is administering a fourth dose to priority groups

** Chile is offering a fourth shot to immunocompromised citizens

** Denmark will offer a fourth coronavirus jab to the most vulnerable

** Hungary will offer a fourth shot to everybody after a consultation with a doctor

** Israel is administering fourth doses to people over 60, health workers and immunocompromised patients. It broadened eligibility on Jan. 26 to adults under 60 with underlying medical conditions, their caretakers and others over 18 at significant risk of exposure to the coronavirus

** Italy recommends a fourth shot for people with a severely compromised immune system

** Poland has authorized a fourth dose for the immunocompromised over 12

** South Korea began giving out fourth doses of COVID-19 vaccines to people in high-risk groups in February

** Sweden has started offering a fourth jab for people with a compromised immune system and recommends that people aged 80 or above should receive a second booster shot

** UK offers a fourth shot for immunosuppressed and the elderly

** U.S. health regulators are considering authorizing a potential fourth dose in the fall, the Wall Street Journal reported.


The U.S. CDC took a stance more cautious than it had previously on Nov. 30 when it said everyone over 18 should get a booster shot. On Jan. 6, it expanded the recommendation to those between 12 and 17.

Canada has authorised booster shots for people aged 18 and above, after earlier recommending them to those moderately or severely immunocompromised.


The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) on Nov. 24 recommended vaccine boosters for all adults, with priority for those over 40.

The EU's drugs regulator said on Dec. 9 that data supports getting vaccine boosters after three months.

These European countries are offering boosters to adults after they receive a full dose of a vaccine:

** Austria over-18s; Belgium over-18s after 5 months; Britain-over-16s and at-risk children between 12 and 15 in England, Scotland, and Northern Ireland, over-18s in Wales; Bulgaria; Czech Republic; Denmark over-18s; Finland with booster gap narrowed to 3 months; France delivered 38.4 million booster shots as of Feb. 18, has cut the interval to four months from five, its regulator recommended on Dec. 24 administering boosters three months after first course; Germany over-12s, recommends booster after three months; Greece three months after second vaccine shot or positive test, down from six months previously; Hungary; Ireland all adults; Italy all adults 4 months after second dose; Lithuania; Malta over-12s; Netherlands with a booster gap of three months; Norway; Poland; Portugal all over-45s, over-30s vaccinated with Janssen; Romania has approved Pfizer or Moderna boosters; Russia; Serbia; Slovakia; Slovenia; Spain 5 months after second dose; Sweden over-18s five months after last dose, 12-17-year-olds after six months; Switzerland over-16s with an mRNA vaccine from four months after the primary vaccination course; Ukraine Pfizer or Moderna boosters


A few African countries are offering boosters amid the continent's low inoculation rates - only 7.5% of Africa's population are fully vaccinated, according to WHO.

These African countries are offering boosters to adults after they receive a full dose of a vaccine:

** Egypt after 6 months; Ghana offers boosters to frontline workers, later will include all over-60s; Kenya to offer booster shots 6 months after the initial shot; Morocco since October; Nigeria since Dec.; South Africa Johnson & Johnson's boosters 2 months after last dose and Pfizer after 6 months https://bit.ly/3H5LAH6; Senegal all adults; Tunisia five months after second dose; Zambia all over-18s, prioritising health workers and those with health conditions


** Bangladesh began administering boosters to frontline workers.

** India started giving booster doses to healthcare and frontline workers and vulnerable elderly on Jan. 10.

** Thailand will give fourth dose to medical personnel, frontline workers and risk groups three months after their third shots.

These countries are offering boosters to adults after they receive a full dose:

** Bahrain Sputnik V to all over-18s at least 6 months after second dose; Cambodia AstraZeneca; China over-18s; Hong Kong; Indonesia general public 6 months after second dose, with priority for the elderly and immunocompromised; Israel all over-12s; Japan over-18s, from March 6-7 months after second dose vs. 8 months previously; Kuwait will require booster shots from all its citizens and incoming travellers who are fully vaccinated 9 months earlier; Malaysia over-18s, mandatory for over-60s, those vaccinated with Sinovac, and high-risk groups; Philippines halved to three months the waiting time for a booster; Singapore booster gap reduced to 5 months; South Korea reduced the booster gap for all adults to three months; Taiwan booster gap reduced to 5 months; Thailand all adults offered second dose after 3 months; Turkey; UAE over-16s, mandatory for people inoculated with Sinopharm vaccine

These countries are offering boosters to people with weak immune systems, the elderly or vulnerable:

** Bangladesh over-50s; Bhutan over-65s as well as priority groups such as health workers, sufferers from chronic medical problems among others; Japan started administering boosters to health care workers in early December, will from March offer shots to elderly after 6 months from last dose; Nepal offers boosters to frontline workers and people over-60

AUSTRALIA fully vaccinated adults and over-16s (only Pfizer), shortened gap to 3 months vs 4 previously.


These countries are offering boosters to adults after they receive a full dose:

** Brazil; Colombia 4 months after second dose vs. 6 previously; Chile first booster dose to all adults; Cuba; Honduras; Panama cut the rollout time for boosters to three months for over-16s; Uruguay offers a Pfizer dose for those fully vaccinated

These countries are offering boosters to elderly, vulnerable and at-risk and immunosuppressed people:

** Brazil; Dominican Republic; Ecuador over-50s five months after second dose; El Salvador elderly, health workers, people with underlying health conditions;

** Mexico opened registration for booster doses to all over-40s.

(Compiled by Dagmarah Mackos, Augustin Turpin, Anna Pruchnicka)

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