FACTBOX: Countries weigh need for booster COVID-19 shots

A nurses fills up syringes for patients as they receive their coronavirus disease (COVID-19) booster vaccination during a Pfizer-BioNTech vaccination clinic in Southfield, Michigan, US,on September 29, 2021. Emily Elconin, Reuters/file

Many countries are preparing to make COVID-19 vaccine booster shots available, but there is no consensus among scientists that they are necessary and the World Health Organization wants the most vulnerable people worldwide to be fully vaccinated first.

Here are some of the options countries and regions are considering:


The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Sept. 24 backed a booster shot of the Pfizer and BioNTech vaccine for Americans aged 65 and older, some adults with underlying medical conditions and some adults in high-risk working and institutional settings.

Canada’s National Advisory Committee on Immunization is recommending booster shots of an authorized mRNA vaccine to those who are moderately or severely immunocompromised.


The European Union’s drug regulator recommended on Oct. 4 a third dose of Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna mRNA vaccines for those with a severely weakened immune system, but left it to member states to decide if the wider population should get a booster.

Several EU member states launched their own booster campaigns before the long-awaited EMA guidance.

Recent contracts with Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna have included the potential for the bloc to buy booster shots.

These European countries are offering boosters to people after they received a full dose of a vaccine:

  • Austria (wider rollout to start on Oct. 17); Czech Republic; Hungary; Russia; Romania (only boosters from Pfizer or Moderna were approved); Serbia; Slovakia

These countries are offering boosters to people with weak immune systems, the elderly or vulnerable:

  • Belgium (mRNA); Bulgaria (recommended for front-line medics, immunosuppressed people, living in care homes and over 65); Britain (mRNA); Denmark; Finland (may expand to other Finns later in the autumn); France; Germany (mRNA); Ireland; Italy; Lithuania; Netherlands; Norway (mRNA); Poland; Portugal; Slovenia; Spain; Sweden (larger population to get a jab in 2022)

Switzerland will not use boosters for now – authorities say they do not see protection slipping over time, but that they are still monitoring the data.


  • Morocco, which administered the most doses in Africa, will soon start giving a third dose, the Health Ministry said on Oct. 1
  • Tunisia (for people over 75)


These countries are offering boosters to people after they received a full dose:

  • Bahrain (Sputnik V, all over-18s at least six months after second dose); Cambodia (AstraZeneca); Indonesia (health workers only, wider population planned in 2022); Israel (all over-12s); South Korea (initial doses to high-risk groups or people with weakened immune systems); Turkey; Thailand (AstraZeneca or mRNA-type booster shots to people who were administered Sinovac brand); UAE (mandatory for people inoculated with Sinopharm vaccine)

These countries are offering boosters to people with weak immune systems, the elderly or vulnerable:

  • China, Singapore


These countries are offering boosters to people after they received full dose:

  • Uruguay (offers a Pfizer dose for those fully vaccinated with Sinovac)

These countries are offering boosters only to the immunosuppressed:

  • Ecuador, Panama

These are offering boosters to elderly, vulnerable and at-risk people:

  • Chile, Brazil (over 60s and healthcare workers); Dominican Republic, El Salvador


The US Food and Drug Administration authorized on Sept. 22 a booster dose of the Pfizer and BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for those 65 and older, all people at high risk of severe disease, and others who are regularly exposed to the virus.

The FDA authorized a third dose by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna Inc on Aug. 13 for people with compromised immune systems.

An advisory panel of FDA experts will also meet later in October to discuss authorizing booster doses of Moderna and Johnson & Johnson’s vaccines, the regulator said on Oct. 1.

Pfizer and BioNtech also submitted data for vaccine booster authorization to the European Medicines Agency (EMA).

Moderna said on Sept. 3 it had asked the EU drugs regulator for conditional approval of a booster shot of its vaccine at a 50 microgram dose, or half the dosage of its two-shot vaccine.

The company also said it had completed data submission for the use of a booster dose to the US Food and Drug Administration.

On Aug. 5, Moderna said its COVID-19 shot was about 93% effective four to six months after the second dose, showing hardly any change from the 94% efficacy reported in its original clinical trial.

AstraZeneca said it was looking into how long the vaccine’s protection lasts and if a booster dose would be needed.

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