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COVID-19

Sweden offers fourth dose of Covid-19 vaccine to over-65s

Sweden's Public Health Agency is now recommending a fourth vaccine dose for all over 65s, as well as other adults aged 18-64 with immune deficiency.

Sweden offers fourth dose of Covid-19 vaccine to over-65s
The second booster dose will be offered to over-65s who had their first booster over four months ago. Photo: Johan Nilsson/TT

The fourth vaccine has been offered to over-80s, care home residents and recipients of at-home care since February this year. Around half of this group – 52 percent – have received their fourth dose, according to the Public Health Agency’s weekly statistics.

Now, the Public Health Agency is extending the second booster dose offer to over-65s, saying in a press release that the decision is due to an increased spread of infection in Sweden and abroad, as well as lower vaccine efficacy for those who received their vaccine more than four months ago.

The risk of becoming seriously ill from Covid-19 increases with age, and – for those over 65 – almost four months has passed since their previous dose. In addition to this, the protective effects of the vaccine become weaker over time.

“Just as before, the goal is to prevent serious illness and death from Covid-19. Since we can still see a significant spread of infection both in Sweden and in other countries in combination with vaccine protection starting to decrease in this group, we are motivated to offer a second booster dose to further age groups,” Public Health Agency general director Karin Tegmark Wisell explained.

The second booster dose should be taken four months after the previous dose, and three months after for those with immune deficiency.

The Public Health Agency also encouraged those who have not yet been vaccinated or received their booster shot to do so “as soon as possible”.

First booster doses are available for over-18s in all Swedish regions. If you have not had yours yet and want to know how to book in your region, see The Local’s guide HERE.

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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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