seniors and frail people can be vaccinated against Omicron sub-variants from October 18

For the injection of an additional dose of vaccine against Covid-19, the High Authority for Health (HAS) recommended, in two opinions published on Tuesday September 20, to administer one of the three vaccines adapted to the sub- Omicron variants that have recently been validated by the European Medicines Agency (EMA).

In the continuity of its previous opinions, the independent authority which has guided the government in its vaccination strategy since the start of the health crisis recommends coupling this new campaign with that against seasonal flu, which will start on October 18.

As has already been the case for several months, this additional dose is intended for people at risk of developing a severe form of the disease, i.e. all those aged 60 and over, immunocompromised patients whatever their age, as well as those around them, pregnant women, children and adolescents at high risk, and, finally, professionals in the health and medico-social sectors.

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In view of the epidemic resumption which began two weeks ago, the HAS recommends, however, for people at very high risk who have not received their second booster dose within the recommended timeframe – i.e. three or six months depending on age and the date of the last injection or infection – to request a new injection now. Only 30% of those over 60 have already received a second booster dose, and the rate of injection is at its lowest level for six months. “The original vaccines are still effective against severe forms; if you are too far from your last reminder, you should not wait an additional month », warns Dominique Le Guludec, president of the HAS.

Adaptation to the current threat

Vaccines approved on 1er and September 12 by the EMA are those developed by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna; they are called “bivalent” because they target both, like all the vaccines administered so far, the original strain of SARS-CoV-2 – known as the “Wuhan strain” – and a type of Omicron sub-variant. If Pfizer-BioNTech has been approved for two vaccines, one targeting BA.1 and the other BA.4 and BA.5, Moderna, for its part, has only received authorization for its vaccine adapted to BA.1.

These are not really new vaccines, since they use the same technology as those which have imposed themselves around the world to fight against Covid-19: messenger RNA. They have simply been updated to better match the current threat, born from the Omicron family, which declined in France first with BA.1, then BA.2, BA.4 and, now, the hegemonic BA.5. They can be compared in this to seasonal flu vaccines, which are updated each year to take into account the viruses that are most likely to circulate during the winter.

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