The World Health Organization (WHO) has reviewed its guidelines on whom to keep vaccinating against Covid-19. As per the global agency's new recommendations, countries were advised to reconsider whether to continue giving booster shots to low-risk groups, such as healthy children and adolescents.
WHO experts suggested Covid-19 additional doses for high-risk groups continued to be prioritized and called on countries to consider their specific context when deciding whether to continue vaccinating low-risk groups.
The revision of the roadmap developed by the agency's Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on Immunization (SAGE) continues to prioritize populations at higher risk of death from Covid-19, including the elderly, pregnant women, younger adults with significant comorbidities, those with immunocompromised conditions, and front-line health workers, WHO said in a statement.
The recommendation reflects the impact of the Omicron variant and the high level of immunity in the population due to infection and vaccination.
In this regard, the experts described three priority use groups for Covid-19 vaccination: high, medium and low.
For the high-priority group, experts recommended an additional booster six to 12 months after the last dose, with the time period depending on factors such as age and immunocompromised conditions.
The revised roadmap re-emphasizes the importance of vaccinating those still at risk of severe disease, mostly older adults and those with underlying conditions, including with additional boosters, stated Dr. Hanna Nohynek, chairwoman of SAGE.
She added that countries should consider their specific context when deciding whether to continue to vaccinate low-risk groups, such as healthy children and adolescents, without compromising the routine vaccinations that are so crucial to the health and well-being of this age group.
The medium priority group includes healthy adults, generally under 50 to 60 years of age, without comorbidities and children and adolescents with comorbidities. For this group, SAGE recommended primary series and first booster doses for the medium priority group, and while additional boosters are safe for this group, they did not routinely recommend them.
For the low priority group, which includes healthy children and adolescents aged six months to 17 years, they stated that primary and booster doses are safe and effective.
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