Brazilian health authorities Wednesday announced the third dose of a COVID-19 vaccine will begin to be distributed during the second half of September 2021, for people over 70 years of age who have completed their full treatment more than six months ago.
The booster doses will be later made available to all people 28 days after their complete immunization cycle.
The federal Health Ministry also explains the measures include reducing the interval between the doses of Pfizer and AstraZeneca from the current 12 weeks between shots to merely 8 weeks.
Immunization should be carried out, preferably, with a third dose of Pfizer or with a viral vector vaccine from Janssen or AstraZeneca, the Ministry of Health announced in a statement.
The decision was made in conjunction with the National Council of Health Secretaries (Conass) of the 27 states of the country and the Ministry's COVID-19 Immunization Advisory Technical Chamber.
Health Minister Marcelo Queiroga had told journalists Tuesday evening that the date for the booster dose had been chosen because it was hoped that by that time the entire adult population will have taken at least one dose of vaccine.
After Queiroga's statements, the National Health Surveillance Agency (Anvisa, regulator) asked the state laboratory Fiocruz, in charge of the local production of AstraZeneca's drug to report on booster doses “to assess the scenario around the need or lack thereof for additional doses of vaccines against COVID-19 in use in Brazil.”
Brazil has reported 20.6 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 and more than 575,000 deaths. So far, some 179.7 million doses of vaccine have been applied, with 55.7 million complete treatments of two doses or of the single-dose immunizer, which accounts for 26.2% of the nearly 212 million Brazilians fully vaccinated.
AstraZeneca is the most common vaccine brand nationwide with 45.8% of the injections, followed by the locally produced version of CoronaVac at 34.6%; Pfizer-BioNTech comes in third with 17% while Johnson & Johnson represents 2.6% of the treatments applied.