New European guidance has recommended that a second COVID-19 vaccine booster shot is given to 'moderately and severely immunocompromised' people from five years of age.
This includes people who are receiving active treatment for blood cancer or have done so in the last 12 months, as well as those who have received a stem cell transplant within the last two years or taking immunosuppressive therapy.
The guidance was released by an expert advisory group, the European Technical Advisory Group of Experts on Immunisation. They base the new advice on a review from 5th July this year, looking at the vaccination status of populations and the epidemiology of the disease.
The group also took into account the latest evidence on vaccine effectiveness against the Omicron variant.
All eligible people should be up to date with their vaccinations in line with national policies, the group urges. Their decision on a second booster for certain people is based on providing additional protection where needed.
They additionally call on European countries to provide a second booster for close contacts of moderately and severely immunocompromised people, as well as specific at-risk groups which may include older adults, health care workers and pregnant women.
Dr Hans Kluge, World Health Organization European regional director, pointed out that cases continue to rise across Europe.
“Most countries have either removed or decreased public health measures like mask mandates," he said. “A second booster shot should be provided to the immunocompromised, and be considered for other vulnerable people, to reduce the risk of severe disease and the resulting burden on health systems.
“This virus is still with us and it’s still dangerous. Enjoy the summer, but do so safely, and take a second booster shot if you are eligible.”
The guidance also suggests that seasonal influenza vaccines should be given at the same time when feasible.
Source: World Health Organization
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