As Omicron emerges, countries weigh need for Covid-19 booster shots

WASHINGTON (REUTERS) – Many countries are rolling out Covid-19 vaccine booster shots, but there is no consensus among scientists that they are necessary and the World Health Organisation wants the most vulnerable people worldwide to be fully vaccinated first.

Concern over the Omicron coronavirus variant has led some countries to expand their booster programmes.

Here are some of the options countries and territories are considering:

North America

US health regulators on Nov 19 expanded eligibility for booster shots to all fully-vaccinated adults.

US CDC took a stance more cautious than previously and said on Nov 30 everyone over 18 should get a booster shot as Omicron’s emergence emphasises the importance of vaccination.

Canada’s National Advisory Committee on Immunisation is recommending booster shots of an authorised mRNA vaccine to those who are moderately or severely immunocompromised.


The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), on Nov 24 recommended vaccine boosters for all adults, with priority for those over 40. Previously it had suggested the extra doses should be considered for frail older people and those with weakened immune systems.

EU residents will need to have Covid-19 vaccine booster jabs if they want to travel to another country in the bloc next summer free of tests or quarantines, the European Commission proposed on Nov 25.

Contracts with Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna have included the potential for the bloc to buy booster shots.

These European countries are offering boosters to adults after they receive a full dose of a vaccine:

– Austria

– Britain (all over 40s and others most at risk of developing Covid-19, to be offered to all adults by end-Jan)

– Czech Republic

– France (soon for all adults)

– Germany (all over-18s)

– Hungary

– Ireland (all adults)

– Italy (so far for over 40s, will be made available to all over 18s)

– Malta (all over-12s)

– Norway

– Poland

– Russia

– Romania (only boosters from Pfizer or Moderna approved)

– Serbia

– Slovakia

– Spain (Pfizer or Moderna booster shots for all inoculated with J&J)

– Sweden (will begin gradual rollout to all adults)

These countries are offering boosters to people with weak immune systems, the elderly or vulnerable:

– Belgium (mRNA shots)

– Bulgaria

– Denmark

– Finland (may expand to other Finns later in the autumn)

– Lithuania

– Netherlands (over-60s)

– Portugal (will offer booster shots to a quarter of its population by the end of January, including over 50s inoculated with J&J vaccine)

– Slovenia

– Spain (expanded from over-70s to over-60s)

– Switzerland (new recommendation for people under 65 expected in the next few weeks)

More on this topic


Egypt will activate within days a plan to offer vaccine booster shots for senior citizens, people with chronic diseases and healthcare workers, the health ministry said on Nov 24.

Morocco, which has administered the most doses in Africa, started giving a third dose beginning in October.

Nigeria is trying to secure booster shots, the head of the presidential steering committee on Covid-19 said on Nov 15.

Tunisia (five months after second dose)

Asia, Middle East

India is not considering authorising booster Covid-19 doses, three sources with knowledge of the matter told Reuters.

These countries are offering boosters to adults after they receive a full dose:

– Bahrain (Sputnik V, all over-18s at least six months after second dose)

– Cambodia (AstraZeneca)

– Indonesia (health workers only, wider population planned in 2022)

– Israel (all over-12s)

– South Korea (initial doses to high-risk groups or people with weakened immune systems)

– Turkey

– Thailand (AstraZeneca or mRNA-type booster shots to people who were administered Sinovac brand)

– UAE (mandatory for people inoculated with Sinopharm vaccine)

These places are offering boosters to people with weak immune systems, the elderly or vulnerable:

– China

– Hong Kong

– Singapore

– Australia (Pfizer booster shots in November to fully vaccinated adults)

More on this topic

Latin & Central America

These countries are offering boosters to adults after they receive a full dose:

– Brazil

– Uruguay (offers a Pfizer dose for those fully vaccinated with Sinovac)

These countries are offering boosters only to the immunosuppressed:

– Ecuador (boosters for general population planned from January 2022)

– Panama

These are offering boosters to elderly, vulnerable and at-risk people:

– Chile

– Brazil

– Dominican Republic, El Salvador (elderly, health workers, people with underlying health conditions)

– Mexico plans to administer Covid-19 vaccine booster doses soon


The US Food and Drug Administration authorised on Sept 22 a booster dose of the Pfizer and BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine for those 65 and older, all people at high risk of severe disease, and others who are regularly exposed to the virus.

The FDA authorised a third dose of Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna on Aug 13 for people with compromised immune systems.

Pfizer-BioNTech, as well as Moderna, received FDA authorisation for the use of booster doses of their vaccines for all adults on Nov 19.

Regulators had previously authorised boosters for all recipients of Johnson & Johnson’s one-dose vaccine, two months after their primary dose.

The European Union’s drug regulator (EMA) authorised the use of Moderna and Pfizer Covid-19 booster shots for over-18s, at least six months after the second dose.

The EMA is also considering an authorisation for AstraZeneca’s and Johnson & Johnson’s booster dose.

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