Italy approves booster COVID-19 shots for vulnerable groups

A nurse prepares a dose of AstraZeneca coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine in Fasano Italy, April 13, 2021. REUTERS/Alessandro Garofalo

MILAN, Sept 9 (Reuters) - Italy's medicines agency AIFA said on Thursday it had approved the use of a third dose of COVID-19 vaccines for vulnerable groups of the population.

The agency approved the so-called booster shot for those likely to have weaker protection from the conventional two-dose inoculation schemes - immunocompromised people, those over 80 years old and nursing home residents.

It was also approved for front-line health workers frequently exposed to the virus.

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The third shot should be administered at least six months after the second dose for all the groups except the immunocompromised, for whom it should be given after 28 days, according to AIFA's recommendation.

The vaccines selected as an additional dose or booster are Pfizer's (PFE.N) and Biontech's Comirnaty and Moderna's (MRNA.O) Spikevax, Aifa said in a statement, recommending only the Cominarty for immunocompromised people aged 12 to 18.

The approval will now be passed to the health ministry, which is expected to rubber stamp it in the coming days.

The European Medicines Agency (EMA) said earlier this month it was evaluating a potential booster dose of COVID-19 vaccines that may be given six months after the second one.

The World Health Organization has called for a moratorium on COVID-19 vaccine booster shots until at least the end of September, in order to leave more doses available for people in countries with poor access to vaccines.

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Reporting by Emilio Parodi, editing by Gavin Jones, William Maclean

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