Germany’s health ministry has announced on Monday that it will begin offering Covid-19 booster shots to high-risk individuals starting September amid concerns about the spread of the Delta variant.
Health Minister Jens Spahn and his 16 regional peers agreed after talks that the elderly and people with weakened immune systems should receive a booster shot, citing concerns over “a reduced or rapidly declining immune response” among some groups.
The officials also agreed to make the vaccinations available to all children aged 12 to 17.
The booster doses will be “one of the two mRNA vaccines,” but the health ministry did not specify the specific vaccine. The European Medicines Agency currently approved mRNA vaccines developed by Pfizer and Moderna.
Germany’s Standing Committee on Vaccination in July said people who receive a first dose of the Oxford-Astrazeneca vaccine “should get an mRNA vaccine as their second dose, regardless of their age,” in what was the world’s strongest recommendation for the mixing of Covid-19 vaccines on efficacy grounds.
Both AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson are viral vector vaccines while the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines utilized novel mRNA technology that has shown high efficacy in studies.
The ministry’s decisions reflected concerns in Germany that the Delta variant, first discovered in India and which spreads faster, could force the country back into restrictions and lockdowns as Europe’s largest economy nears a general election in September.
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