The World Health Organization has modified its COVID-19 vaccination guidelines for a new pandemic phase, advising older, high-risk groups to get a booster shot between 6 and 12 months after their last shot while healthy children and teenagers may not necessarily need one.
Given the high level of population immunity globally as a result of widespread infection and vaccination, the U.N. agency stated that the goal was to concentrate efforts on immunizing those who were most at risk of developing severe illness and passing away from COVID-19.
The health organization identified older adults and younger people, which are high-risk populations, with other major risk factors. Based on various variables, like age and immunocompromising, the agency advises this group to receive a second dose of the vaccine either six or twelve months after the previous dose.
In the meantime, it emphasized that healthy kids and teenagers were “low priority” for the COVID-19 vaccine programme and encouraged nations to take into account factors like disease burden before advising vaccination of this group. The COVID-19 vaccine and boosters were deemed safe for use in children of all ages, but other considerations, such as cost-effectiveness, went into the suggestions.
The WHO declared that the pandemic’s conclusion was “in sight” in September last year. The agency stated in a briefing on Tuesday that its most recent recommendations did represent the state of the world’s diseases and levels of immunity, but they should not be interpreted as long-term advice on whether yearly boosters will be required.
The recommendations emerge as nations adopt various strategies. Some high-income nations, including the United Kingdom and Canada, are already providing high-risk individuals with COVID-19 boosters after a gap of six months.
The revised roadmap, according to Hanna Nohynek, head of the WHO’s Strategic Group of Experts on Immunization, “re-emphasizes the importance of immunising those still at risk of severe disease.”
The group also demanded immediate action to make up for routine vaccinations missed during the pandemic and foresaw an increase in diseases like measles that can be prevented by vaccination.
For COVID, it stated that due to marginal benefits, additional vaccinations beyond the original two shots and a booster were no longer regularly advised for those at “medium risk.”