Switzerland approves Covid-19 boosters for everyone over 16

The timeline for booster shots is not set in Switzerland
People from the age of 16 are eligible for booster shots in Switzerland, but when will they get them? Photo byJACK GUEZ / AFP
Switzerland’s drug regulatory body authorised the Pfizer vaccine to be given in a third dose for all residents from the age of 16, and to high-risk teens from 12.

“Swissmedic reached this decision based, among other factors, on a study with 10,000 participants aged 16–87”, the agency announced on Tuesday.

“The interim results of this study gave no indication of new risk aspects for the vaccine”, Swissmedic said, adding that “in both cases, the second dose must have been administered at least six months previously”.

However, it is not clear at the moment when this age group, as well those under 65, will be given the boosters.

So far, only people older than 65 and those at risk from Covid complications, are allowed to receive booster shots in Switzerland.

The country is lagging behind its neighbours in administering third shots of Covid vaccine to people under 65, and the booster rollout for general public is not expected until next year.

They are not as widely available in Switzerland because many cantons have dismantled their vaccination centres and will not be able to ramp up their capacities again before the New Year.

READ MORE:  Covid booster jabs unlikely to arrive in most Swiss cantons until 2022

A number of Swiss health experts are urging the government to speed up the booster rollout to prevent the worsening of the epidemiological situation.

Huldrych Günthard, an infectious disease specialist at Zurich University Hospital warned the third-dose campaign must be given “by all means and as quickly as possible, even if it means calling on the army or civil protection. Otherwise, we will soon find ourselves in the situation Austria already finds itself in”.

Unavailability of booster shots is driving (literally and figuratively) many Swiss residents go to nearby countries to get the shot.

“The fact that they have to go abroad to do this is due to the slowness of Swiss politics and authorities. Now it is crucial that the cantons increase their vaccination capacities to the maximum”, Dominique de Quervain, member of the Covid-19 Task Force told the media.

READ MORE: Can Swiss get a booster vaccination in Germany?

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