COVID-19

Booster dose: six to three months, how the government has gradually reduced the time

This is one of the main announcements made by Jean Castex on Monday night. Starting this Tuesday, the French can receive their Covid vaccine booster, often referred to as a third dose, three months after their initial vaccination. Starting this Tuesday, “it will be enough three months after your second injection or the first if you have had the Covid to benefit from your reinforcement,” announced the Prime Minister during a press conference after a health defense council.

For several weeks, the government has been gradually reducing the term of the booster dose, in the face of an epidemic outbreak now reinforced by the arrival of the new Omicron variant, much more contagious than previous incarnations of the virus. Initially set at six months, this deadline was shortened to five on November 27 amid concerns about the Omicron variant. On December 17, at the end of the health defense council, Prime Minister Jean Castex announced that the deadline would be reduced to four months from January 3, with a consequence on the health pass: six months to carry out the withdrawal prior to deactivation. On December 24, the deadline before you could receive your booster dose was set at four months.

In France, booster doses are necessarily administered from a messenger RNA vaccine, either that of Pfizer / BioNTech or that of Moderna, even if the latter is not recommended for those under 30 years of age due to occasional side effects in the heart. By further reducing the time limit, the government is following the advice of the High Authority for Health (HAS). This had been spoken, just before Christmas, so that reminders could be given after three months.

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The fourth dose, a “possibility”

On November 25, Olivier Véran clarified the current “rule” related to contamination before or after vaccination: “an infection corresponds to an injection” of vaccine. In other words: if you contracted Covid-19 prior to vaccination and therefore received a single injection four months or more ago, you may receive a second booster dose. If you received a first injection and then received Covid, four months later, you may receive a second booster dose. If you contracted Covid-19 after receiving a full vaccination program, you may be eligible for a booster five months after infection. But these deadlines may also change soon.

The measure to reduce the timing of the booster dose announced Monday night by the government is aimed at responding to the arrival of Omicron. This is not only more contagious, but it is also partially resistant to existing vaccines, even if they are generally effective against severe forms. However, several studies show that a booster dose reinforces protection against this variant, although it is not yet clear how long this effect lasts.

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In this context of uncertainty, the fourth dose of vaccine “is a possibility”, admitted the Minister of Health, Olivier Véran. “This question will come in due time (but) not now,” he added. “We don’t have a retrospective view of the duration of effectiveness, … we’ll see what it is.” Israel, the most advanced country in terms of vaccination, plans in particular to launch a “fourth dose” campaign, but for now has been content with conducting clinical trials with caregivers. In the immediate future, in France, more than 45 million people are affected by the withdrawal, of which about half have already received it, according to Olivier Véran.

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