Luxembourg to reduce wait for booster shot as Covid bites
Luxembourg wants to ramp up the administration of booster doses by cutting the waiting time as the country battles a new surge in infections and hospitalisations that is delaying non-urgent surgeries.
Luxembourg on Tuesday reported 711 new infections out of fewer than 6,000 tests, while 82 people are in hospital - 26 of whom are in intensive care. The number of positive cases is the highest recorded in 2021, as the government calls on people to get tested.
Close to 5,900 booster shots had been administered in one day on Tuesday in a sign that the booster campaign is going strong, whilst close to 700 and 600 first and second doses respectively had also been given.
After a vaccination lull in the summer and most of autumn, Luxembourg is now nearing one million total doses administered, according to the government's statistics.
Hospitals in Luxembourg are postponing some operations, the Health Ministry said late on Tuesday, as Covid-19 patients take up more and more beds and the country races to get more people vaccinated against the deadly disease.
While the deadline for receiving the booster dose after having been previously fully vaccinated was initially set at six months, the Luxembourg government has decided to reduce it to five months, based on advice from the Superior Council of Infectious Diseases, public broadcaster 100,7 reported on Wednesday following a government cabinet meeting. Boosters using the Moderna vaccine only require half a dose for those aged above 30.
First invitations for the shortened gap will be sent out on Monday, the radio station said. The decision follows that of other countries, such as France, Greece and the UK, that have already reduced waiting times. In the UK, any adult can get a booster shot after just three months regardless of the previous vaccines.
From January onwards, the interval between the second dose and the booster could be reduced to four months in Luxembourg, the broadcaster said. This applies to people vaccinated with the mRNA vaccines BioNTech / Pfizer and Moderna and those who have received a dose of AstraZeneca then a second mRNA vaccine.
The deadline had already been set at four months for people fully vaccinated with AstraZeneca, and people who have received the one-shot Johnson&Johnson vaccine are eligible for a Moderna or BioNTech-Pfizer booster after just one month.
Parliamentarians on Thursday are set to approve a new law which will clamp down on people who have not taken the vaccine, forcing them to take a daily Covid test to enter the workplace from mid-January. On Tuesday, the advisory Human Rights Committee (CCDH) warned against the costs incurred by the non-vaccinated for tests, and said the government should do a better job at fighting disinformation around Covid-19 and vaccines.
Nearly 6,000 people went to have their first Covid-19 jab last week, the highest number of first doses in almost half a year, a sign that government pressure on vaccine hold-outs is starting to have effect despite raucous protests.
The number of people in Luxembourg fully vaccinated against the corona virus stands at 68%, the same as the EU average and only just below 69% in Germany. But in neighbouring France and Belgium, the full vaccination rates stand at 71% and 75% respectively, according to data published on the Our World in Data website, run in part by Oxford University.