vaccination targeting Omicron begins, what you need to know

New vaccines dedicated to protection against severe forms of the Omicron variant sub-lineages are available from this Monday, October 3 for frail people, the over 60s or caregivers.

COVID – Next Generation Messenger RNA Vaccines, Says “bivalent”, are now available in pharmacies and vaccination centers, while the figures for contamination and hospitalizations have been increasing, on average, since mid-September in France. These vaccines were approved by the High Authority for Health (HAS) on September 20, after approval by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) a few days earlier.

This date of Monday, October 3 is however two weeks ahead of the schedule recommended by the HAS, which recommended in its opinion to “couple this new campaign with that of vaccination against seasonal flu which will start on October 18”, recalling that “the concomitant injection of the two vaccines is possible, if it is carried out on two distinct injection sites. »

Are you eligible?

These new vaccines are offered and recommended to:

– People aged at least 60 years old
– Residents of nursing homes and long-term care units (USLD)
– Immunocompromised people
– Adults aged at least 18 years and at risk of severe form (presenting comorbidities, pregnant women)
– People living in the entourage of another person belonging to one of the categories listed above
– Caregivers and other professionals in the health and medico-social sectors

If you are on this list, the deadlines for being eligible since your last booster differ: vaccination is possible for people aged 80 and over, residents of nursing homes and immunocompromised people if they had their last booster there. 3 months or more. The others must wait six months, if they have not tested positive for Covid in the last 3 months.

Are these vaccines more effective?

According to a press release from Moderna published on June 8, 2022, the results of this new bivalent vaccine are promising. Tests were carried out on 437 people, half of the people received the vaccine against the initial virus as a booster shot, and the other half were injected with this new bivalent vaccine.

One month after the injection, people vaccinated with the new strain show antibodies 8 times higher than the others. According to the laboratory, the vaccine “demonstrates (…) also a higher response against Omicron BA.4/5 sublines” compared to the first generation vaccine. But these results still need to be consolidated.

As for their ability to reduce the very strong contagiousness of this variant, “nothing is certain for the moment but they could reduce the risk of transmission by 40 to 50%, which was not the case until now”, explained a few days ago HuffPost, Bruno Lina, virologist reappointed to the new scientific committee. For his part, Professor Antoine Flahaut, director of the Institute of Global Health at the University of Geneva, said he was cautious about the “superiority” of these vaccines compared to the first formulations.

Are both vaccines already available?

For the first few days, only the 576,000 doses already received of Moderna’s Spikevax vaccine will be available in France. It will be necessary to wait a few additional days for the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccines adapted to BA.5, the majority in the cases sequenced since June 2022. “No supply voltage” is anticipated by health authorities as this recall is entirely optional and is only open to certain audiences at this time.

These two vaccines can be used “indifferently”indicates the HAS, even if the Moderna vaccine is not recommended for people under 30 for a year because of greater cardiac risks.

A successful campaign could break the eighth wave, currently observed in Western Europe. An increase in the cases identified which is beginning to be reflected in the number of resuscitations recorded in France, as you can see in the graphs below.

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