Norway, Portugal to Offer COVID-19 Boosters to People Aged 65 and Older

By Lorenz Duchamps
Lorenz Duchamps
Lorenz Duchamps
October 5, 2021 Updated: October 5, 2021

Norwegian and Portuguese authorities confirmed COVID-19 vaccine booster shots will soon become available for people aged 65 and older.

A third dose will start being offered in late October or early November to Norwegians who received their second dose at least six months prior, Health Minister Bent Hoeie said on Tuesday.

Hoeie emphasizes that this third shot is a refresher dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, which was approved for this purpose by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) earlier this week.

Portugal’s health secretary, Antonio Sales, said late on Monday the government is extending COVID-19 booster shots to everyone aged 65 and older from mid-October. He noted that the booster could only be administered six months after people received their second dose.

The third dose will first be administered to the nation’s most vulnerable groups of people, such as care home residents and those over the age of 80.

The southern European nation, which has the world’s highest vaccination rate with 85 percent of its total population fully jabbed, started last month to give an extra COVID-19 shot to those aged over 16 with weakened immune systems.

In Norway, more than 90 percent of citizens aged 18 and above have now received the first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, and some 85 percent of adults are fully vaccinated, according to the Institute of Public Health.

The Nordic country used vaccines made by BioNTech, Pfizer, and Moderna in its national rollout, which since September includes everyone aged 12 and over.

The booster shot recommendations come as EMA on Monday gave the approval to administer boosters of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine dubbed Comirnaty to people aged 18 and older.

The health agency also confirmed it backs giving a third dose of either Comirnaty or Moderna’s Spikevax COVID-19 vaccine to people with severely weakened immune systems at least 28 days after their second shot, but left it to member states to decide if the wider population should have a booster.

World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus also urged wealthy nations not to use booster doses this year, saying there is no scientific data that proves the shots are necessary.

An international group of vaccine experts, including officials from the Food and Drug Administration and WHO, also previously said there’s no evidence to suggest that the general population needs COVID-19 vaccine booster shots.

Reuters contributed to this report.

From NTD News