Which Swiss cantons are already offering Covid booster shots?
Several Swiss cantons have already rolled out a third Covid ‘booster shot’ for people who are fully vaccinated. Are they being offered in your canton?
As at mid-August, federal authorities in Switzerland are working out a plan to administer booster shots for Covid-19.
While the details are still being determined, these can expected to be rolled out in October, targeting high-risk individuals and older people.
At the cantonal level however, the rollout has already begun, with close to ten cantons already administering booster shots.
These shots are as yet not available to the entire public, but are targeted at people with weaker immune systems and a particular need for additional protection.
Which cantons are administering booster shots in Switzerland?
As it stands, information on booster shots is known only by the cantons and has not been shared with federal authorities.
The canton of Basel-City already started administering booster shots to residents with a particularly weak immune systems on August 6th.
Since then, several other cantons have followed, including Bern, Zurich, Solothurn, Zug, Schaffhausen, Thurgau and Aargau.
Blick said the majority of cantons that were asked were already administering booster shots, although the newspaper did not indicate which cantons had been asked - and which had not.
Therefore, even if your canton is not on the list, there is a chance Covid booster shots are already being offered for people with compromised immune systems.
Bern has started Covid booster shots, confirming to Swiss tabloid Blick that several have been administered already.
Like in Basel, these booster shots have been targeted at people in high-risk categories.
"The purpose of a third vaccination is to build up good vaccination protection in immunocompromised patients" a spokesperson told Blick.
Zurich has already vaccinated 40 people a third time, Blick reports, with those who have a "severe lack of immunity" targeted.
"The purpose of a third vaccination is to build up good vaccination protection for weakened patients," said Jan Fehr, infectious agent and professor at the University of Zurich.
"Such third vaccinations for immunocompromised people are not a booster, but a completion of the basic vaccination."
When will the general public get a booster shot in Switzerland?
While concrete plans are not yet in place, it looks likely that booster shots will be made available in late autumn.
As The Local reported, government said that “in order to ensure sufficient protection in the longer term, booster vaccinations for certain population groups or those already vaccinated will probably be necessary from next winter at the earliest.”
The federal government has instructed the responsible authorities to work with the cantons to ensure the infrastructure remains in place to administer booster shots, most likely early in 2022.
However, on August 3rd, the government said it was still in the process of drawing up plans for a booster vaccination, saying that exactly who would receive it and under what circumstances was to be determined.
"We are looking at the scenario where Switzerland starts with a third dose in the fall, Masserey said, adding that “this decision must be taken on the basis of clear and proven facts. Israel's is based solely on observations. We are awaiting scientific data”.
Two months later, in October, the plans were still under development.
However, former FOPH director Andreas Faller warned that Swiss health officials should not take too long to decide on the booster strategy.
“We need to learn from our past mistakes and take the data coming out of Israel seriously. We cannot afford to waste precious time once again”, he said.