Ukraine has begun offering booster doses of Covid-19 vaccine for citizens aged 60 and over.
The booster doses will become available six months after completing vaccination.
Earlier, Ukraine was offering booster doses only to doctors and staff of senior care facilities, having only authorized them on Dec. 22. As of now, 5,713 people have received a booster dose in Ukraine.
Health Minister Viktor Lyashko said on Jan. 4 that he signed the order authorizing the booster doses for people aged 60 and older after immunization experts recommended it.
On Jan. 5, the health ministry will also consider making them available to a broader share of the population, according to Lyashko.
It's recommended that an mRNA vaccine (Pfizer/Comirnaty or Moderna) is used for a booster dose regardless of what vaccine was used for the first two doses, according to Lyashko.
In Ukraine, 13.7 million people have been vaccinated. That's 36% of the country's total population and 44% of its adult population. (The general population excluding the Russian-occupied territories in Crimea and eastern Ukraine is estimated to be 38 million people).
The most popular vaccines have been Pfizer/Comirnaty (6.1 million vaccinated) and Sinovac/Coronavac (4.5 million vaccinated).
Ukraine also changed its protocol for mixing different Covid-19 vaccines during the main course of vaccination on Jan. 4. Now, Coronavac can be mixed with AstraZeneca, Moderna or Pfizer.
The government also authorized the use of AstraZeneca as the second dose after an mRNA vaccine (Moderna or Pfizer). In this case, a minimum of 28 days must pass between the doses.
Lyashko also made a recommendation for pregnant women: if they got Coronavac for their first dose, and then got pregnant, they should get Moderna or Pfizer for their second dose.
The introduction of booster doses and change of protocols came days after the health ministry predicted that Ukraine will face a new wave of Covid-19 infections caused by the new Omicron strain starting in mid-January and peaking in mid-February.
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