Covid booster jabs with updated formula now available in Prague

The newly approved vaccines are optimized for the BA.1 Covid variant, while doses that can protect against BA.4 and 5 could arrive by Sept. 19. Staff

Written by Staff Published on 12.09.2022 15:13:00 (updated on 12.09.2022) Reading time: 2 minutes

Booster shots using the newest formulation of Covid-19 vaccines are now being administered at 54 facilities in Czechia and further spots for getting another jab will be added, Deputy Health Minister Josef Pavlovic said Monday. Czechia will receive up to 700,000 doses a week. The new formula can be used for both the first and second booster shots.

The list of facilities where the new vaccines are available can be found on the Health Ministry's website. A second booster jab is available for free to people who have public health insurance. So far, the new formula is available at 11 locations in Prague but all require registration. There is no walk-in option yet.

Self-payers in Prague can also get a second booster jab but for now only at Hospital Na Bulovce and Motol Teaching Hospital. Information for self-payers is also on the Health Ministry website.

Anyone over the age of 12 can seek booster doses three months after completing their initial vaccination at the earliest. In mid-July, the Health Ministry began allowing a second booster dose (using the then-current formula) and recommended it no sooner than four months after the first booster.

Czechia has had the updated Pfizer/BioNTech vaccines since last week, and adapted vaccines from the Moderna are to arrive this week, according to the Health Ministry. The new formulas were approved by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) on Sept. 1. The vaccines are adapted against the Omicron BA.1 variant, which prevailed in Czechia at the beginning of this year.

"It will be gradually available at all vaccination facilities in Czechia. The final decision on which vaccine to apply is always up to the doctor," Pavlovic said.

There are currently 386 vaccination sites in Czechia, including 71 in Prague.

Health Minister Vlastimil Válek said last week that vaccines adapted against the newer variants Omicron BA.4 and BA.5 may reach Czechia around Sept. 19. However, they still need the approval by the EMA.

According to the ministry's data, over 65 percent of Czechia's population, or 6.97 million people, have been vaccinated against Covid-19 so far.

The share of the vaccinated is highest among people over 70, and it gradually declines with people's declining age. It is the lowest in the age group of 30–34 at 63 percent, 12–17 at 54 percent, 5–11 eleven at 7 percent.

Some 38 percent of people have had one booster jab and almost 2 percent, or 199,000 people, have received the second booster so far.

The daily number of new Covid cases has been rising slightly week-on-week for seven days in a row, chief public health officer Pavla Svrčinová said, adding that new cases have appeared mainly among children and young people. Experts, nevertheless, believe that only a small part of those infected have been tested.

There were 614 patients hospitalized with Covid on Sunday, which Svrčinová said was the main sign that the situation is stable and that no recommendations are needed except for the use of respirators in health and social care facilities. The situation may deteriorate with the expected worse weather in October and November, she added.

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