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Belgium to give booster coronavirus vaccines for immunocompromised

by editor

Belgium will give third shots to people with a reduced immunity against the coronavirus, the government announced.

The decision will allow between 300,000 and 400,000 people to get a third shot of an mRNA vaccine, either BioNTech/Pfizer or Moderna, this fall.

Belgium is the latest country to move forward with third shots. Israel first began giving boosters this summer, while Hungary gave third shots to anyone who wants one in August. The U.S. is expected to soon follow suit.

In the EU, France, Germany, Austria and Lithuania have various plans to give third shots for immunocompromised and at-risk people this fall.

The moves are controversial, after the World Health Organization called for a moratorium on boosters until every country has at least 10 percent of its population vaccinated at the end of September — a goal the world is nowhere close to reaching. The WHO, however, considers third shots to immunocompromised people to be part of the first round of vaccinations.

Belgium’s Interministerial Conference on Public Health announced the decision today after a study from the Federal Center of Expertise for Health Care showed that immunocompromised people have a reduced immunity after the typical two-dose regimen.

The people who qualify for a third shot include patients who have a congenital immune deficiency, blood cancer or other malignant tumors; are HIV-positive with a low CD4 cell count; have inflammatory diseases treated with immunosuppressants; receive chronic renal dialysis, or have received a transplant.

Belgium is also planning to make vaccines mandatory for health workers.

Ashleigh Furlong contributed reporting.

This article is part of POLITICO’s premium policy service: Pro Health Care. From drug pricing, EMA, vaccines, pharma and more, our specialized journalists keep you on top of the topics driving the health care policy agenda. Email [email protected] for a complimentary trial. 

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