Expert: Coronavirus booster doses already recommended for elderly

Marje Oona
Marje Oona Source: ERR

Over-65s in Estonia should receive a third coronavirus booster vaccination, one expert says, because the effectiveness of the vaccine to date has not been as high as would have been liked. Since this demographic was among the first to get vaccinated, early on this year, discussions of booster doses are also pressing.

Family doctor and a member of the expert committee on immunoprophylaxis Marje Oona says the it had been key to ensure that as many people as possible received their first coronavirus protective vaccination, adding that over time, the effect of this first dose diminishes.

She said: "If we look at these vaccine effectiveness figures in protecting against severe disease, they are not bad at all, but elderly people inevitably have a slightly different immune system and still have a higher risk of serious disease."

At the same time, there is currently very little information on the side effects of the coronavirus booster dose, meaning it is only recommended for the elderly, i.e. those aged over 65 and those residing in care homes, Oona added.

"And I encourage them to use this vaccination option right away," she continued.

The booster dose should not be administered sooner than six months after completion of an initial vaccination course in the case of the elderly, with that gap extended to at least eight months after full vaccination for the rest of the populace.

Human resistance to the coronavirus rises, as does the volume of antibodies, Oona said, but the long-term protection capacity is not known.

Administering a booster dose for younger people is not recommended, Oona added.

She said: "For younger people, it's not time for a booster dose. We're constantly monitoring the data and it is up to the person to decide whether or not they want to increase protection," adding that while data from Ireland and some other countries is available, in rare case, side-effects of booster doses not yet known may emerge, while if they do, they should be monitored carefully.

The evidence obtained internationally suggested that side-effects were no more frequent after third doses than after second ones, she added.

Oona noted that multiple doses of vaccines are not confined to the coronavirus inoculation – tick-borne encephalitis, for instance, has three doses.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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