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Swiss health experts recommend delaying second dose to speed up vaccination campaign

People in Switzerland receive the second shot of Covid vaccine about a month after the first. But the country's Covid-19 Task Force now suggests postponing it by two weeks.

Swiss health experts recommend delaying second dose to speed up vaccination campaign
Second doses may be delayed to accelerate vaccinations. Photo by Fred TANNEAU / AFP

The reason for the recommendation is to speed up the inoculations.

If the second dose is injected six weeks after the first instead of the usual four, the vaccination campaign will be faster, the Covid-19 Task Force said on Tuesday.

With an interval of six weeks and as few doses in stock as possible, half of the population could get at least one shot — and some degree of protection against the coronavirus —  several weeks earlier.  

The Task Force also stressed that while the interval between the two doses is stretched out,  cantons should use up their vaccine reserves to immunise as many people as possible.

Federal authorities have already told cantons to dip into their “second dose” reserves to speed up the pace of inoculations. 

The second shot would be guaranteed thanks to the 8 million doses of the Pfizer/Biontech and Moderna vaccines that are expected to arrive in Switzerland between now and the end of July.

READ MORE: Switzerland tells cantons to use up their vaccine reserves

But would delaying the second dose beyond the recommended timeframe make vaccines less effective?

Health officials say it would not, with other countries also delaying the second shot as a matter of policy. 

A similar situation occurred in February in Vaud: the canton had to postpone the second shot from four to six weeks because it did not receive enough doses.

“This does not affect the effectiveness of the vaccine, nor its safety. On the contrary: prolonging the interval between the two doses can only improve the immune response,” the canton said. 

To date, no decision to change the timing of second doses has been made.

Member comments

  1. Instead of just delaying the second dose, how about also vaccinating people late at night and also on the weekends which is what every other developed country in the world does in order to protect its people? We are in a pandemic and it is not business as usual but yet the government and the cantons are treating the vaccination as if we are getting vaccinated for the common flu. It is also ridiculous that one of the richest and smallest countries in the world to be so far behind in its vaccination program. How did Switzerland not secure more doses at risk when the pandemic started similar to UK, Israel, UAE?

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Switzerland authorises Moderna vaccine for children over six

Children between the ages of six and 11 will now be able to get a Moderna shot, Swiss health authority said.

Switzerland authorises Moderna vaccine for children over six

Until now only the Pfizer vaccine has been approved in Switzerland for this group, starting at age five.

However, on Friday the country’s drug regulatory body, Swissmedic, gave the green light to start administering Moderna’s vaccine to children over six, who will receive two half doses of 50 micrograms at an interval of four weeks.

Those over 12 and adults are injected the full dose.

The agency said that based on clinical studies, young kids react to the Moderna vaccine much like older children and adults do.

“The most commonly reported side effects such as pain, redness or swelling at the injection site, fatigue, headache, shivering or nausea, were similar to those in adolescents and young adults”. Swissmedic said.

READ MORE: Everything you need to know about Covid vaccines for children in Switzerland

Also, “fever occurred more frequently in children, whereas muscle and joint pains were seen less often than in adolescents or adults. The undesirable effects were generally mild to moderate and lasted for a few days”.

While some parents may be reluctant to vaccinate their children against the coronavirus, health officials say the vaccines are safe. They also argue that in order to achieve herd immunity, all age groups should have their shots.

While the number of Covid infections has dropped significantly in Switzerland in the past two months, epidemiologists are predicting a new outbreak in the fall and winter, when cooler weather drives more people indoors, where the yet-unknown variants will be more transmissible.

READ MORE: How can I get my children vaccinated against Covid in Switzerland?