MILAN (Reuters) – Italy has decided to provide a booster shot of Pfizer and BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine to frail people regardless of their age as well as people aged 60 and over, the health ministry said on Friday.
The booster dose would be available on condition that at least six months have passed since people completed their primary vaccination cycle, the ministry said in a statement.
The European Union’s drugs regulator said on Monday people with weakened immune systems should get a third dose of a COVID-19 vaccine from Pfizer/BioNTech or Moderna, but left it to member states to decide if the wider population should have a booster.
Beginning Sept. 20, a third dose had been given in Italy to immunocompromised people, those age 80 or over and to nursing home residents and operators, and health workers over 60 or with comorbidities or other factors leading to increased exposure to possible infection.
Italy’s National Health Institute said on Wednesday that seven months after the second dose, there was no reduction in the efficacy of the mRNA vaccines – the technology used in the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna shots – in the general population, while a slight decline was seen for some specific groups.
Italy recorded 30 coronavirus-related deaths on Friday, down from 41 the day before, the health ministry said, while the daily tally of new infections rose to 3,023 from 2,938.
Hospitalisations for COVID-19 have been steadily declining since early summer in Italy.
Data released on Friday by the National Health Institute showed that the bed occupancy rate in intensive care units due to COVID-19 was at 4.8% and 5.1% in other wards.
(Reporting by Emilio Parodi, Editing by Valentina Za and Bill Berkrot)