Germany will start offering COVID booster shots in September and make it easier for 12- to 17-year-olds to get a jab, the health ministry said, amid concerns about the spread of the Delta variant.
Health Minister Jens Spahn and his 16 regional peers agreed after talks on Monday that the elderly and at-risk should receive a booster shot, citing concerns about “a reduced or rapidly declining immune response” among some groups.
Mobile vaccination teams should be sent into care and nursing homes, the ministry said, to offer Pfizer/BioNTech or Moderna booster shots to residents, regardless of which vaccine they received originally.
Doctors will also be able to administer booster jabs to those who qualify, including people with weakened immune systems.
A booster shot will also be offered to anyone who received the two-dose AstraZeneca or single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccines, the document released by Spahn’s ministry said, “in the interests of preventative healthcare”.
Both AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson are viral vector vaccines, whereas the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines use novel mRNA technology that has shown high efficacy in studies.
The ministers also agreed to make the coronavirus vaccine more widely available to those over the age of 12 years, going a step further than the country’s STIKO vaccines regulator.
The regulator currently only recommends the coronavirus vaccine for 12- to 17-year-olds if they have pre-existing conditions or live with people at high risk from COVID.
Although adolescents who do not fall into those categories are still allowed to get vaccinated, in consultation with their parents and doctors, the cautious STIKO guidance has curtailed interest.