Sweden opens up fourth dose of Covid-19 vaccine for over-80s

Sweden's Public Health Agency is now recommending a fourth vaccine dose for care home residents, recipients of at-home care, and over 80s, to be given at least four months after dose three.

Sweden opens up fourth dose of Covid-19 vaccine for over-80s
Over-80s will soon be offered a fourth vaccine dose against Covid-19. Photo: Fredrik Sandberg/TT

Despite recently removing almost all Covid-19-related restrictions, the pandemic is still ongoing in Sweden, with the Public Health Agency describing the spread of infection in a press release as “intensive”.

There has also been an increase in the number of cases in groups of the population with an increased risk for serious illness, such as care home residents. 

In addition to this, the immune system’s ability to react to vaccinations and build up long-term protection against the virus becomes less effective with age.

In response to this, the Public Health Agency is now recommending that Swedish regions offer a second booster dose – representing a fourth dose of the Covid-19 vaccine – to the following at-risk groups:

  • care home residents
  • recipients of at-home care
  • over 80s

Regions will be able to offer the dose four months after the first booster dose (dose three), at the earliest, starting from next week.

“A booster dose strengthens protection against the virus,” said state epidemiologist Anders Tegnell in a statement. “Therefore, we believe that people aged 80 and over will benefit from a second booster dose.”

First booster doses are available for over-18s in all Swedish regions. If you have not had yours yet and want to know how to book in your region, see The Local’s guide HERE.

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Sweden cuts waiting period for Covid booster to three months

Sweden’s Public Health Agency now recommends shortening the interval between the second and third dose of the Covid vaccine from five to three months.

Sweden cuts waiting period for Covid booster to three months
The waiting period between the second and third dose of a Covid-19 vaccine was previously five months in Sweden. Photo: Stina Stjernkvist/TT

More than 45 percent of over-18s in Sweden have been given a booster dose, but the agency said it wanted to speed up the process amid a sharp rise in Covid infections.

The new recommendations come three weeks after Sweden reduced the booster waiting time from six to five months, a decision that came later than many other European countries.

Denmark currently offers the third dose four and a half months after the second, Italy four months, Spain five months, and Germany, France and the UK three months.

Sweden recommends using half a dose of Moderna’s Spikevax vaccine or a full dose of Pfizer/Biontech’s Comirnaty as the third dose. The latter is recommended for under-31s.

Swedish regions are responsible for their own healthcare so it is ultimately up to them to decide how and when to roll out boosters to more people, although they are generally likely to follow the Public Health Agency’s advice. To book a vaccine in your region, go to the healthcare website and click välj region at the top of the page.