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Booster shots as infection rate soars

16.11.2021 - 11:12
Mynd með færslu
 Mynd: Grímur Jón Sigurðsson - RUV
Over 6,600 received booster shots against COVID-19 at Reykjavík’s Laugardalshöll arena yesterday, the first day of the campaign to offer booster shots to everyone over 16. People are being invited by text message, as before, and should not turn up uninvited.

30,000 will be invited for boosters at Laugardalshöll this week, and 160,000 by the 8th December, if all goes to plan. All other regions of the country are also offering booster shots to residents.

Around 70 percent of those invited in the capital region on the first day turned up.

Everyone who is fully vaccinated, aged 16 or over, and has not had covid will be invited for a booster shot of the Pfizer vaccine (regardless of which vaccine they had first time round), though no less than five months after their second shot this summer. People who have had two injections but have also tested positive for the virus are asked to wait for now. People are also asked to wait at least two weeks if they have received this year’s flu shot before going for their covid booster. 

The head of nursing at Heilsugæslan, the capital region healthcare provider, Ragnheiður Ósk Erlendsdóttir, says research does not indicate the reaction to the third injection is any worse than the first two, “So we don’t believe people should have any worries about it”. 

Infection rate never higher

The 14-day infection rate per 100,000 people in Iceland remains the highest it has ever been, at 552.8. There are 1,773 people in isolation with active infection and 2,636 in quarantine. 25 people are in hospital due to the coronavirus; including four in intensive care. 206 people tested positive domestically yesterday, which was the most ever. 111 were not already in quarantine. 

Magnús Gottfreðsson, professor of immunology, says it is normal and expected that the immune system protection from coronavirus immunisation should reduce with time. He says it is not unlikely that further injections will be required in the future, and possibly even regular boosters, as is already the case with annual flu shots. 

"Three injections more suitable than two"

“I wouldn’t word it thus that we are losing the protection, but it is known that antibody levels drop somewhat with time. But it is very important to remember that those who have been vaccinated are in a much better position than the non-vaccinated; even half a year after vaccination,” Magnús says. "There are many indications now that three injections is perhaps a more suitable dose than two. It was really impossible to foresee that.” 

Magnús says that while the original two injections have not served to eliminate the spread of the virus as hoped, they have definitely provided good protection against serious illness and hospitalisation. It is hard to predict the future need for a fourth injection, or regular boosters, but says that if covid vaccination is to be annual in the future, he believes it could be given as a single dose in autumn, as part of the flu vaccination. 

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