“We are in the middle of the fourth wave,” Xavier Bettel told a press conference on Friday afternoon. Despite this, the situation in hospitals--the indicator for deciding on new measures--is relatively stable, so cabinet on Friday decided not to introduce any further health measures or restrictions.
But the situation can quickly degenerate, the prime minister warned. To avoid this, there is one solution: vaccination. And in particular the injection of a third dose. “Immunisation decreases with time”, explained Bettel. Hence the announcement of the extension of the booster programme to the entire population over the age of 18.
One condition will be necessary: those receiving the third dose must have received their full vaccination more than six months prior (or one month for the Janssen single-dose vaccine). After this period, an invitation will be sent to register for the booster shot via a code. The first 40,000 invitations will be sent out on Monday 22 November. This vaccination is “strongly recommended,” said Bettel.
This extension can be seen as a change of strategy on the part of the government. It took almost two months for the booster dose to be extended to the over-65s on 9 November, after it had been opened to the over-75s and vulnerable people.
However, the announcement is contrary to the recommendations of the World Health Organisation (WHO), which regularly states that the priority should be to distribute vaccines to vulnerable people in poor countries, rather than to give booster shots in rich countries, which are already largely vaccinated.
The prime minister reiterated the importance of increasing the rate of basic immunisation. “People who are not vaccinated are not only putting themselves at risk, but also society as a whole,” he said. A number of measures have been taken to further facilitate vaccination.
Vaccination in pharmacies
First of all, a bill has been tabled so that pharmacies can also provide vaccinations, Bettel said. Secondly, a vaccination centre has been opened at 70 Grand-Rue (which is already a certification centre). It will be open from 11am to 6pm until 31 December.
Finally, mobile teams will be deployed in places where many people circulate, notably in shopping centres and in the communes. In parallel, an information campaign on the importance of vaccination will be carried out. “The government's priority remains vaccination,” Bettel insisted. “We cannot win this fight against the virus without it.”