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COVID-19 VACCINES

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 1177.se healthcare website and click välj region at the top of the page.

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TRAVEL NEWS

Covid face mask rule on flights in Europe set to be eased

The mandatory EU-wide mask requirement for air travel is set to be dropped from Monday, May 16th, but airlines may still require passengers to wear masks on some or all flights

Covid face mask rule on flights in Europe set to be eased

Europe-wide facemask rules on flights are set to be ditched as early as next week in light of new recommendations from health and air safety experts.

The European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) dropped recommendations for mandatory mask-wearing in airports and during flights in updated Covid-19 safety measures for travel issued on Wednesday, May 11th.

The new rules are expected to be rolled out from Monday, May 16th, but airlines may still continue to require the wearing of masks on some or all of flights. And the updated health safety measures still say that wearing a face mask remains one of the best ways to protect against the transmission of the virus.

The joint EASA/ECDC statement reminded travellers that masks may still be required on flights to destinations in certain countries that still require the wearing of masks on public transport and in transport hubs.

It also recommends that vulnerable passengers should continue to wear a face mask regardless of the rules, ideally an FFP2/N95/KN95 type mask which offers a higher level of protection than a standard surgical mask.

“From next week, face masks will no longer need to be mandatory in air travel in all cases, broadly aligning with the changing requirements of national authorities across Europe for public transport,” EASA executive director Patrick Ky said in the statement. 

“For passengers and air crews, this is a big step forward in the normalisation of air travel. Passengers should however behave responsibly and respect the choices of others around them. And a passenger who is coughing and sneezing should strongly consider wearing a face mask, for the reassurance of those seated nearby.”  

ECDC director Andrea Ammon added: “The development and continuous updates to the Aviation Health Safety Protocol in light of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic have given travellers and aviation personnel better knowledge of the risks of transmission of SARS-CoV-2 and its variants. 

“While risks do remain, we have seen that non-pharmaceutical interventions and vaccines have allowed our lives to begin to return to normal. 

“While mandatory mask-wearing in all situations is no longer recommended, it is important to be mindful that together with physical distancing and good hand hygiene it is one of the best methods of reducing transmission. 

“The rules and requirements of departure and destination states should be respected and applied consistently, and travel operators should take care to inform passengers of any required measures in a timely manner.”

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