Booster shots take off as first vaccinations stall
Luxembourg's vaccination campaign is focusing on dishing out booster shots as people seeking their first doses have slowed to a trickle in the country with one of the lowest rates in Western Europe.
Luxembourg distributed 4,070 third doses of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines to medically vulnerable and people over 75 last week, the Health Ministry said on Wednesday. The jabs were intended to boost the waning immunity against Covid-19 after initial doses months ago.
First vaccinations, on the other hand, slowed to just 1,877 during the week ending on Sunday - the fourth successive week of declining figures - the health ministry said. During the height of the campaign, Luxembourg dolled out more than 6,000 jabs per day.
Almost two-thirds of Luxembourg's 630,000 residents are fully vaccinated, according to Oxford University's Our World in Data website. Because the vaccines have not yet been proven safe for children under the age of 12, they are not receiving inoculations. That means 74% of the population that can receive a vaccine is fully protected, according to the health ministry's figures.
The results show the Grand Duchy is still a long way off the threshold of herd immunity - when the virus will slowly peter out as it catches fewer people without protection from immunisation or previous infection.
Some countries such as the United Kingdom and Denmark have started dropping all pandemic-related restrictions after vaccinating a high proportion of their populations.
Luxembourg's government may re-introduce restrictions or impose vaccine mandates if the number of severe infections goes up significantly, government advisor Thomas Dentzer told the Télécran magazine, which is owned by the same publisher as the Luxembourg Times.
But if Luxembourg jabs 80% to 85% of its entire population, the government should consider dropping all remaining restrictions, Dentzer added.
As Luxembourg struggled to convince more people to be vaccinated, new infections and hospitalisations remained stable last week, the health ministry also said on Wednesday. Of those who required hospital treatment, 82% were not or not fully vaccinated, including three-quarters of intensive care patients, the health ministry said.
On Wednesday, 161 people tested positive for the coronavirus while authorities also reported one new Covid death. Waste water analysis showed a "significant increase" of the virus, the health ministry also said.