Brazil to give COVID-19 booster shots to elderly and vulnerable

A health worker shows a syringe to an elderly woman before applying a dose of the Sinovac's CoronaVac coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine, during a vaccination day for 65-year-old and older citizens in Duque de Caxias near Rio de Janeiro, Brazil March 29, 2021. REUTERS/Ricardo Moraes

SAO PAULO, Aug 25 (Reuters) - Brazil will give booster shots of COVID-19 vaccines to people with compromised immune systems and those over the age of 70 beginning inmid-September, the Health Ministry said on Wednesday.

Vaccines from AstraZeneca (AZN.L), Johnson & Johnson(JNJ.N), or Pfizer (PFE.N) will be used for the booster shots, the ministry said in a statement.

The information differs from remarks on Tuesday byHealth Minister Marcelo Queiroga, who had said vulnerable people and over 80-year-olds would receive an additional jab of the Pfizer.

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The rapid spread of the Delta variant and new research suggesting diminished effectiveness of vaccines over time has led many countries to propose an additional dose to reinforce protection.

Sinovac's Coronavac vaccine, which was used for many elderly people in Brazil because it was the earliest available in large quantities, is not part of the plans outlined for the booster shots.

The extra shots will be administered to those with vulnerable immune systems 28 days after their second dose. For those 70 and over, the ministry stipulated a six-month interval before applying a booster shot.

Also starting next month, the gap between the first and second shots of Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccines will fall to eight weeks from 12 weeks for all those vaccinated in Brazil.

Brazil has had more than 20.6 million confirmed coronavirus infections and more than 575,000 fatalities due to the virus.

According to data from the Health Ministry, 123.9 million people have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine in Brazil, or about 59% of the population.

Some 55.7 million had been completelyimmunized, or about 26.5% of the country's population, the data showed.

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Reporting by Eduardo Simões; Writing by Ana Mano; Editing by David Holmes and Steve Orlofsky

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