The Standing Commission on Vaccination (Stiko) has recommended in principle a Corona booster vaccination for people aged 70 and older. In addition, residents of nursing homes, as well as nursing staff and other employees with direct contact to patients in outpatient and inpatient care facilities, should be offered a booster vaccination, the Stiko announced in Berlin on Thursday. The same applies to staff in medical facilities with direct patient contact.
The Stiko referred to the reasoning that the vaccination protection after a two-time Corona basic immunization "decreases with time, especially with regard to the prevention of asymptomatic infections and mild courses of disease." In older age, the immune response after vaccination is also lower overall, and so-called vaccination breakthroughs, i.e. illnesses despite complete vaccinations, could also more frequently lead to a severe course of the disease.
On Monday, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) gave the green light for booster vaccinations with Biontech's Corona vaccine. Booster vaccination with the vaccine of the Mainz-based company and its U.S. partner Pfizer would be considered for people aged 18 and older, the EMA said. According to the statement, the third vaccination should be given no earlier than six months after the administration of the second dose. An EMA expert panel evaluated data for the Biontech vaccine with the manufacturer's name Comirnaty, the EMA said. It showed that antibody levels increase with a third vaccination, it said.
Recommendations on the administration of booster vaccines would be issued by health authorities at the national level, the EMA said. It stressed that the risk of inflammatory heart disease, as well as other very rare side effects, following booster vaccination was not yet known. This would be "carefully monitored," the EMA stressed.
Some countries have already begun offering booster vaccinations to vulnerable populations. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends a third vaccination for all people 65 and older, for people at increased risk for severe disease, and for workers in occupations with a high risk of infection, such as healthcare workers and teachers.
Proponents of a third vaccination argue that an additional vaccination dose increases protection against infection with the coronavirus, especially in view of the spread of the delta variant. Opponents of booster vaccination, on the other hand, state that two doses of vaccination would already provide sufficient protection. They also argue that the focus should be on vaccinating unvaccinated people - for example, in developing countries where there is a shortage of vaccines.
Image by DoroT Schenk