Italy recommends fourth dose for immunocompromised patients

The fourth COVID-19 dose is recommended for immunocompromised patients 120 days after receiving their third booster dose. [Shutterstock/Wachiwit]

The fourth COVID-19 dose is recommended for immunocompromised patients 120 days after receiving their third booster dose, the Italian Agency of Medicine (AIFA) announced on Sunday.

The fourth dose will be administered with mRNA vaccines, and the timing of administration is the same as for the third booster dose for the general population.

The virus’ current circulation rate remains high and preventive measures are preferred, members of AIFA’s technical and scientific committee said to justify their recommendation.

The vulnerable category of immunocompromised people refers to “people with a marked impairment of immune response, for reasons related to the underlying disease or drug treatments,” and those “undergoing solid organ transplantation”.

“In the face of a reduction in the protective effect and duration of immunisation after the primary vaccination cycle against the Omicron variant, still reveals high levels of effectiveness and safety of the booster dose in preventing symptomatic forms, hospitalisations and deaths related to COVID-19,” AIFA said.

Most European countries with a modest vaccination rate already recommended the fourth dose for most vulnerable people between January and February.

While COVID-19 cases continue to decrease in Italy, the infection rate is still considered worrying. At the same time, 5.1% of Italians and residents still have not yet received the first vaccine dose, the GIMBE foundation reported on Thursday. Two million of these will be eligible for a shot in the next six months after recovering from the virus.

The foundation, a non-profit research and training organisation, recommends the government elaborate “strategies to reduce the impact of new waves after the summer”.

(Eleonora Vasques | EURACTIV.com)

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