New COVID-19 vaccine booster plan in Switzerland: What expats need to know
Along with the current booster campaign for the over 65s, the Vaccination Commission and the Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH) has recently announced their new vaccination strategy for Switzerland, which includes a new recommendation for booster shots across the country. Here is what expats need to know.
Who is currently eligible for a COVID booster shot in Switzerland?
As of November 10, any person above 65 years old is eligible for a COVID booster shot, if they are already immunised. The move was supported by research from the United Kingdom and Israel that showed an additional dose boosted immunity significantly.
As part of the booster campaign, you will receive a text through your mobile phone if you are newly eligible for the booster jab. Most cantons still use the original booking system that was used for the first and second dose of the vaccine. To find out whether you are eligible for the vaccination, please check out the official government website.
The current rollout was timed to coincide with National Vaccination Week, which saw a “rush of the elderly” in Zurich going to get their booster jab. The age group is being targeted due to the higher risk of serious illness from COVID-19 for the over 65s, and the fact that they received the vaccination first, meaning that the effects of the vaccine may be diminishing.
Why should I get a COVID booster jab?
According to the FOPH, the protection against serious illness in the over 65s decreases from 95 to 80 percent, six months after the second jab. The booster increases this back up to around 95 percent protection, which is one of the reasons why the age group is being targeted first.
In a press conference on Tuesday, the President of the Vaccination Commission, Christoph Berger, assured the public that the first and second jabs of vaccine were still effective at stopping serious illness or admission to hospital, but that the new booster would be able to curb the virus’ spread.
When should I receive my COVID booster shot?
In the press conference, Berger, went on to announce a “new vaccination strategy.” For people under the age of 65, the Vaccination Commission is proposing to start giving booster shots by the end of November. However, this would only be possible if all eligible people above the age of 65, or those that are infirm, get the booster quickly.
According to Berger, it "made the most sense" to administer the booster jab around six months after the second vaccination at the earliest. Head of the Office for Health in Zug, Rudolf Hauri, noted that the initial vaccination would still work beyond six months, assuring “you can also be vaccinated for the third time seven, eight or nine months after the second vaccination."
Will I need to be booster jabbed every six months?
On the possibility of having to be jabbed every six months, Berger said he “does not assume that this will be necessary.” He counselled that the only reason why the third dose was being proposed was due to the current strain on Swiss healthcare and doctors in Switzerland.
How do I get my booster shot in Switzerland?
Booster jabs will be administered by each canton in a similar way as the first and second doses, in either mass-vaccination centres, pharmacies or GP practices. Once you have confirmed your eligibility for a booster, you can book a jab through your canton's official website.