German committee recommends booster after three months as Omicron spreads

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A woman receives a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine in the Central Mosque, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic in Cologne, Germany, December 18, 2021. REUTERS/Thilo Schmuelgen

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BERLIN, Dec 21 (Reuters) - Germany's STIKO vaccine authority on Tuesday shortened the recommended period between a second coronavirus shot and a booster to three months from six, reflecting the increasing presence of the highly infectious Omicron variant.

The authority said anyone over age 18 should have a booster using an mRNA vaccine three months after completing a two-shot course of COVID-19 vaccines.

STIKO previously recommended anyone fully vaccinated with an mRNA vaccine should wait six months after their last shot. For the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine, that period remains four weeks.

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STIKO also recommended that anyone over age 12 who was infected with the coronavirus should receive a shot at least three months after they recovered.

Previously the recommendation was six months.

The elderly or people with pre-existing conditions should be prioritised for booster shots, the committee added.

Some 70.4% of the population has had two vaccinations and 32.6% have received a booster.

While data remains limited, half a dozen laboratory studies have shown that an initial course of COVID-19 vaccines is not enough to halt infection from Omicron, but a booster may help. read more

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Reporting by Miranda Murray, editing by Emma Thomasson and Giles Elgood

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