Extended interval between first and second vaccine dose to vaccinate more people faster
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The Ministry of Health and Care Services has decided to extend the interval between the first and second dose of mRNA vaccines (BioNTech / Pfizer and Moderna) against COVID-19 after advice from the Norwegian Institute of Public Health. The interval is extended from 6 to 12 weeks to ensure that more people receive a coronavirus vaccine as early as possible.
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Recent data on the immune response after vaccination with mRNA vaccines and after undergoing COVID-19 disease suggest a long duration of antibodies to the S protein from SARS-CoV-2, and that the difference in antibody levels from 6 to 12 weeks after vaccination is minimal. Other countries have also chosen a strategy with an increased interval between the first and second dose.
“Since the first dose provides very good protection against COVID-19, we believe that it is right to ensure that as many as possible receive the first dose as early as possible. By extending the dose interval by six weeks, far more people will receive the first dose earlier,” explains Geir Bukholm, Director of the Division of Infection Control and Environmental Health at the Norwegian Institute of Public Health.
Extension of the interval between doses 1 and 2 for mRNA vaccines up to 12 weeks applies to people under 65 years of age without underlying diseases (priority groups 8-9, as well as 18-44-year-olds).
“One dose, that can now be offered to more people, provides relatively good protection against infection with the SARS-CoV-2 virus, for example among younger people who are assumed to contribute to transmission, as well as against more severe disease courses of COVID-19 among those with increased risk,” says Bukholm.
The change will come into effect from Monday 3 May and will not have retroactive effect for those who have already had their first vaccine dose. This means that there will be no change in vaccination date for those who have booked an appointment after their first dose.
“Just because the interval between doses has been extended does not mean that vaccinated people can drop the second vaccine dose. You are only fully vaccinated after you have received the second dose,” Bukholm concludes.