Coronavirus: EU recommends second booster for over-60s

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The EU's health commissioner says people aged over 60 and other vulnerable individuals should have a second COVID-19 booster.

European regulators have recommended a second Covid-19 booster jab for everyone over 60 as well as all medically vulnerable people across Europe amid mounting infections and hospitalisations.

The EU’s health and medicine agencies had previously recommended a second booster for people over the age of 80 in April. But with concerns growing over the rise in cases in Europe, driven mainly by the Omicron variant BA.5, the advice has been widened effective immediately.

The new recommendations go further than the current advice in the UK, where people aged 75 and above, residents in care homes for older people, and those with weakened immune systems have been offered a second booster.

“With cases and hospitalisations rising again as we enter the summer period, I urge everybody to get vaccinated and boosted as quickly as possible,” said Stella Kyriakides, the European commissioner for health and food safety.

“There is no time to lose,” she added in a statement issued by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) and the European Medicines Agency. “I call on member states to roll out second boosters for everyone over the age of 60 as well as all vulnerable persons immediately.”

The ECDC director, Andrea Ammon, said there was “an increasing trend in hospital and ICU admissions and occupancy in several countries”, driven mainly by the Omicron variant BA.5.

“This signals the start of a new, widespread Covid-19 wave across the European Union. There are still too many individuals at risk of severe Covid-19 infection whom we need to protect as soon as possible,” Ammon said.

However, the agencies also said there was no need yet to give a second booster “to people below 60 years of age who are not at higher risk of severe disease”, or to those working in healthcare or in care homes.

According to World Health Organization (WHO) data, Covid cases have been rising speedily since the end of May around most of Europe.