On 21 December 2021, Switzerland’s Federal Department of Public Health (FOPH) and Federal Vaccination Commission (EKIF) announced that they had adjusted their recommendation for administering booster shots of mRNA vaccines from a minimum of 6 months after the last shot to a minimum of 4 months.
The recommendation applies to everyone aged 16 or over, and especially to those in older age groups or those who are immunocompromised, said the government.
Current data show that Covid-19 vaccination provides only reduced protection against the Omicron variant and protection can be increased with a booster. Reducing the interval is particularly important for older people to protect them from severe illness and hospitalisation. A shorter interval can now also help reduce the spread of the very contagious Omicron variant, said the FOPH.
The Omicron variant is expected to spread rapidly in Switzerland. The latest data (10.12.2021) show that 7% of cases in Switzerland were Omicron, a figure that is likely to be significantly higher now. In London, Omicron leapt from around 5% to nearly 90% of cases in two weeks.
People who received a dose of the Janssen Covid-19 vaccine at least 4 months ago are also recommended to have a booster with a dose of mRNA vaccine. The proviso is that an mRNA vaccine is not contraindicated and is not rejected for other reasons, said the FOPH.
Booster vaccinations with Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are currently only authorised by Swissmedic, Switzerland’s drug approval agency, 6 months after initial immunisation. However, the new recommendation from the FOPH and EKIF will allow the professionals responsible for administering boosters to offer them at 4 months from the last shot. Doctors must however warn patients that the earlier booster jabs are an off-label use of the vaccine and ensure they have patient consent.
Even with the new shorter interval of 4 months, the federal government says that it has has enough vaccine doses to vaccinate everyone who wishes to be vaccinated or boosted.