The National Immunization Panel (NIG) recommends the Corona booster vaccination for everyone ages 12 and older. They should get their fourth Corona vaccination starting in September, it said at a press conference in Vienna.
Previously, the recommendation for the 4th sting applied only to people 60 years and older. Health Minister Johannes Rauch (Greens) expects Corona case numbers to rise significantly in the fall and issued an FFP2 mask recommendation for indoor use.
FFP2 mask requirement could return in the fall
“It is likely that in the fall, mandatory masks will again be useful and necessary in certain areas, such as public transport or supermarkets,” the health minister said at a press conference in Vienna. He therefore strongly appealed to people living in Austria to wear FFP2 masks wherever the minimum distance of two meters cannot be maintained. It is clear that “waves cannot be prevented” and that infections cannot be prevented “in the long term,” said Rauch, who, however, spoke of a “stable development” in the Corona situation. One had “come through the summer well.”
What will come in the fall, “we don’t know exactly,” in any case, increased contacts will also increase infection and hospital numbers. “Vaccination is and remains the most important measure; the willingness to vaccinate is there,” the minister stated. He said there is also the recommendation to get tested for this. The five free PCR and rapid antigen tests will continue to be available free of charge “into the spring,” Rauch said. He repeated the words of his predecessor, Rudolf Anschober (Greens): “The next few weeks are decisive” when it comes to getting vaccinated, said the current health minister. Compulsory vaccination will not be reintroduced under any circumstances, he assured.
Omicron vaccines are expected in Austria starting in September.
Adapted variant vaccines are expected to be delivered to Austria before September. As early as Thursday, Rauch expects the EU Medicines Agency (EMA) to confirm approval of the first bivalent vaccines. First, the vaccine specially adapted to the omicron variant BA.1 is expected, followed a few weeks later by the vaccine adapted to the current variant BA.4/BA.5.
Under no circumstances should people wait for this vaccine, he said. “Please do not wait, but go for vaccination now,” appealed vaccination expert and NIG member Herwig Kollaritsch. “The vaccines already available have been used billions of times. They are well proven and continue to protect effectively against severe disease,” the infectious disease expert stressed. Indeed, the variant vaccines would “not bring any significant improvement to the situation”; rather, it would be “absolutely unreasonable” to wait for them. The important thing, he said, is to complete the primary immunization with three doses and then get the booster. To that end, the NIG has changed the vaccination recommendation days before school starts.
Fourth, the Corona vaccination is recommended for all Austrians 12 years and older.
A few days before school started, the NIG changed the vaccination recommendation. The fourth Corona vaccination is recommended for all persons aged twelve years and older with an appropriate interval from the last vaccination, depending on age, from four to six months after completion of primary immunization (3rd vaccination), explained vaccination expert Herwig Kollaritsch. For children five to 11 years old, basic immunization – which consists of three vaccinations – should be completed no later than the start of school; it said no booster vaccination is currently recommended in this age group. The NIG also adjusted its recommendation to reflect current scientific findings. For people over age 60, booster vaccination is recommended four months after essential immunization completion.
Corona vaccination also recommended after infection
“I think I can claim that almost no one would have to die in Austria from a pure covid infection if they are vaccinated and have the therapy accessible,” Kollartisch said. With these two means – vaccination and medication in case of infection – “we can do a lot to get safely through the autumn wave,” the expert affirmed. In any case, the vaccination regimen should be followed regardless of infection. With old variants, an infection still virtually replaced a vaccination, but that is no longer the case with Omikron, Kollaritsch explained.
“Ultimately, anyone who undergoes infection with any of the current variants should remain on their vaccination schedule regardless,” he stressed. “The vaccination is more essential than the infection,” the expert specified. Those who are PCR-negative and healthy could go for vaccination after infection, but that is not a must; he said; it is also possible to wait a few weeks. Kollaritsch emphasized the positive side effect of the booster. This also provides “a certain protection against infection” in the first weeks after vaccination, dampening epidemiological events.
Corona vaccines can also be changed
Vaccines can be switched for booster vaccination if you want to, Kollaritsch said. “Mix and match can be done without any problem,” he explained, explaining that Moderna’s vaccine has proven to be the one with minor benefits. However, he said, it is more reactogenic, eliciting stronger reactions. “You always buy a small disadvantage with an advantage,” the infectiologist stated. The expert noted that people at risk should consider whether another vaccination outside the vaccination schedule might not be helpful.
- source: APA/picture: pixabay.com
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