EU States Urged to Roll Out COVID Booster Shots to Fend Off Winter Infections

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – EU countries should start offering COVID boosters to their populations now to contain a fresh wave of infections expected this autumn and winter, the bloc’s executive said in a document seen by Reuters last Friday ahead of its official release.

The Brussels-based European Commission said more than 2,300 people still die of COVID in the bloc every week, while other negative health consequences of the disease include long-COVID symptoms and mental problems.

“The past two years have shown that the EU could face another COVID-19 wave this autumn and winter,” the Commission said, as a return to schools and cooler weather push people indoors, helping seasonal flu to spread as well.

“Vaccination continues to be the most reliable way of avoiding severe disease and therefore reducing mortality from COVID-19,” it said, telling the 27 EU states to prepare vaccination campaigns, including shots adapted to new variants.

“They should be rolled out ahead of the next wave.”

On Thursday, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) approved boosters by BioNTech-Pfizer and Moderna upgraded for new COVID-19 variants.

“It is essential to continue prioritising an uptake of the primary vaccination and first booster dose among all eligible individuals,” the EU’s top health official, Stella Kyriakides, said in reacting to the EMA decision.

(Reporting by Francesco Guarascio and Gabriela Baczynska; Editing by Nick Macfie)

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