The Chief Epidemiologist recommends a third dose for everyone 16 years and older when 6 months have passed since their primary vaccination against COVID-19

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COVID-19 cases continue to increase in Iceland, and there is an increasing number of serious illnesses, hospitalisations and an increased need for intensive care. The current situation is that the usefulness of booster vaccinations to strengthen the defenses of the individual and society has now become very clear, participation has been rather low among groups that have been defined as priority for the third dose compared to participation in primary vaccinations, but at the same time more and more people are reaching the six-month mark and do not receive a booster dose even if they request it.

Therefore, the Chief Epidemiologist has decided that everyone 16 years and older can receive a booster dose when approx. 6 months have passed from the primary vaccination. The healthcare centre is working to increase the capacity to carry out vaccinations, but there are enough vaccines available or expected to vaccinate everyone who reaches this juncture before the end of the year. For optimisation, the minimum time will be set at 5 months, as many people reach the 6-month mark between Christmas and New Year. However, those aged 70 years and older and people with immunosuppression according to the Chief Epidemiologist’s definition, regardless of age, may receive the booster vaccination after 3 months, as these groups are considered to be at increased risk of an inadequate response to two vaccinations.

Vaccine from Pfizer/BioNTech will be used in Iceland for booster vaccinations in general, but there is Moderna vaccine available that can also be used for this purpose according to the patient information leaflet; the Moderna vaccine uses half the dose compared to that used in the primary vaccination is given. For men aged 16–39 years, it is recommended that the Pfizer vaccine be used, as there is more uncertainty about the risk of carditis when the Moderna vaccine is used in this dosage for booster vaccination.

Data on booster vaccinations of children 12–15 years old is not sufficient to recommend general booster vaccinations for that age group after 6 months, as the case may be.

The following groups should not receive the booster vaccine without consulting their doctor:

  1. Individuals with autoimmune diseases who have an active disease when a booster vaccination is recommended.
  2. Individuals with autoimmune diseases who experienced the worsening of symptoms or new, severe symptoms within 2 weeks of COVID-19 primary vaccination.
  3. Individuals who experienced life-threatening adverse reactions during primary vaccination, such as anaphylaxis.

The Chief Epidemiologist