Portugal to roll out COVID booster shots next week

LISBON, Sept 2 (Reuters) – Portugal will start vaccinating people with booster shots against COVID-19 on Wednesday along with the seasonal flu shot ahead of an expected rise in infections after the summer, the head of the health authority DGS said on Friday.

The two boosters to be used are manufactured by BioNTech-Pfizer and Moderna.They have been upgraded to protect against the new COVID-19 variants and were approved on Thursday by the European Medicines Agency (EMA).

The so-called bivalent shots combat the BA.1 version of Omicron and the original virus first detected in China in 2020.

“In this autumn-winter season people should protect themselves against severe forms of COVID and influenza,” DGS chief Graca Freitas told reporters.”The vaccination campaign will start on Sept. 7.”

The priority will be those over 80 years old and people with underlying health problems, she said.

Both shots – COVID booster and flu – will be given at the same time, one in each arm.The vaccination campaign will run through Dec. 17.

Portugal has carried out an internationally praised vaccine rollout, and although the nation experienced a surge in cases due to the fast-spreading Omicron variant in the first few months of this year, deaths and hospitalisations were well below levels seen in earlier waves.(Reporting by PatrĂ­cia Vicente Rua; Editing by Andrei Khalip and Mark Porter)

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