Sweden Recommends Fourth COVID-19 Shot for Certain Groups

By Zachary Stieber
Zachary Stieber
Zachary Stieber
Zachary Stieber covers U.S. and world news. He is based in Maryland.
February 14, 2022 Updated: February 14, 2022

Swedish authorities on Feb. 14 said all people aged 80 or above should get a fourth COVID-19 shot amid waning protection against the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, which causes COVID-19.

In addition to everybody 80 and older, people who live at nursing homes or who have assisted living helpers who visit their residences should get a fourth shot, or a second booster, according to the Public Health Agency of Sweden.

A second booster can be obtained as soon as four months after receipt of the first booster.

The recommendation is for people who received the Moderna or Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines.

Both are built on messenger RNA (mRNA) technology and are typically administered in two-dose primary regimens, with the first doses spaced several weeks apart.

The primary regimens have proven insufficient to protect well against infection and the protection against hospitalization has also dropped significantly as time elapses from the second shot, particularly following the emergence of the Omicron CCP virus variant.

That triggered recommendations by health agencies around the world for a booster.

“The increase in cases among the vaccinated in recent weeks is judged to be due to the fact that the vaccine’s effect after two doses is lower against infection with the Omicron variant compared with the Delta variant,” the Swedish health agency says on its website.

The Omicron virus variant displaced Delta in Sweden and a slew of other countries in late 2021.

“Among the vaccinated cases, there are many who have received two doses but have not yet had time to supplement with the third,” the agency says.

The initial booster bolsters the waning protection against infection and severe disease, but people experience a fresh eroding of protection in the weeks and months following the boost, according to studies from Israel, the United States, and other countries.

“The finding that protection conferred by mRNA vaccines waned in the months after receipt of a third vaccine dose reinforces the importance of further consideration of additional doses to sustain or improve protection against COVID-19–associated ED/UC encounters and COVID-19 hospitalizations,” researchers with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other U.S. institutions wrote in a study published Feb. 11. ED stands for emergency department and UC stands for urgent care.

Anders Tegnell, Sweden’s chief epidemiologist, said a fourth dose of one of the mRNA jabs would “strengthen the protection” against infection, serious illness, and death.

Sweden already recommended all adults 18 and older get a third shot of the Moderna or Pfizer shots, and already made available fourth shots to some people with weakened immune systems.

Other countries have previously expanded who is eligible for a fourth dose of one of the vaccines. Israel, one of the most vaccinated nations in the world, in January said all adults 60 or older with serious underlying conditions could get a second booster in addition to people who care for that population. South Korea on Monday said people who live in nursing homes and similar facilities will be able to get a fourth shot.

Zachary Stieber
Zachary Stieber covers U.S. and world news. He is based in Maryland.