Committee: No fourth Covid vaccine dose on horizon

Immunoprophylaxis committee member and doctor, Marje Oona
Immunoprophylaxis committee member and doctor, Marje Oona Source: ERR

The government's immunoprophylaxis committee says no fourth coronavirus vaccine shot is needed in Estonia at present.

Committee member Marje Oona said Wednesday that, that according to the commission, while a three-dose vaccination program has been developed in Estonia as of now, there is no need to initiate a fourth dose drive as is the case in, for instance, Israel.

The committee also said it does not see the need for under 18's to receive booster doses.

Oona said: "We certainly do not anticipate that any booster dose will be needed every three months in the future," though qualified this by adding that: "It is possible that, going forward, it becomes necessary to administer vaccinations as is the case with 'flu vaccinations, and it is feasible that certain risk groups will need more frequent booster, doses."

The committee recommends a booster after six months also to those who have recovered from the virus, and have had one vaccine dose.

"The proposal is to give these people a dose of the vaccine after six months," she said, adding that the digital register still needs amending to allow for this, something likely to be ready in the new year.

This category of people – those who have recovered from a bout with Covid and have had one, but not two, shots, didn't seem to be particularly vulnerable to the Omicron variant, Oona said, based on scientific evidence, though real-world data is still lacking on the topic.

The committee had said Monday that Covid vaccine booster doses (i.e. third doses) may be issued two to three months after the preceding dose, rather than six months as has been the case up until now.

Ragnar Vaiknemets, Acting Head of the Health Board, said that there are almost as many different theories on the Omicron strain as there are studies into it, which was behind much of the range of conflicting media reports so far.

However, he added that his: "Concern and fear at the moment is that, given the current lack of information, we are underestimating the impact of the strain. At the same time, pseudo-scientific activities are simply not practical."

The variant may be dominant by early January, he said, and may be followed by a surge in illness and increased pressure on hospitals again. Around 400 people may require hospitalization in January, it is estimate.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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