The Czech Republic is expanding its vaccination program to offer a third dose of a vaccine amid rising infections.
The Health Ministry has recommended the booster shot for anyone older than 60, health workers, and other vulnerable groups.
On Monday, the first 8,000 people received a text message from the authorities that they are eligible for the third shot.
They can be given it no earlier than eight months after receiving their second dose of vaccine. Those whose immune systems are compromised and others who are seriously ill can get the booster shot as soon as four weeks after the second shot.
The Pfizer and Moderna vaccine will be administered at vaccination centers in hospitals and by general practitioners as most mass vaccination centers are being closed due to falling interest.
“The general rule says that all people who completed the first vaccination at least eight months ago can get the third jab,” said Health Minister Adam Vojtěch, noting that a booster shot is “strongly recommended” for people with weak immune systems.
Only mRNA vaccines will be used, even for those who were previously vaccinated with AstraZeneca or the Johnson & Johnson jab.
EU countries currently have no common approach regarding booster jabs. Several states, including France, Germany or Italy, offer third jabs to vulnerable citizens, such as seniors or immunocompromised people.
However, the ECDC does not consider the need for a COVID-19 vaccine booster jab to be urgent for the general population. Meanwhile, the European Medical Agency (EMA) is currently evaluating whether the third jab of Pfizer/BioNTech should be given to people over 16 years.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has asked countries to refrain from offering booster shots to the general public to make the doses available for poorer countries.