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A booster dose of the coronavirus vaccine is recommended for certain risk groups



The Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) recommends that groups at risk of severe coronavirus disease receive a booster dose of the coronavirus vaccine in autumn 2023 with a new XBB.1.5 variant vaccine, once it has received marketing authorization. The autumn booster dose is recommended for everyone aged 65 and over, those aged 18 and over who belong to medical risk groups, and those aged 12 and over who are severely immunocompromised. THL estimates that the coronavirus vaccines will arrive in Finland before the beginning of November, when the coronavirus and influenza vaccines could be given at the same time.

A booster dose in autumn is recommended for social and health care workers only if they belong to the target group for the booster dose due to their age or underlying diseases. There are no medical grounds for booster doses for all social and health care professionals, as XBB.1.5 vaccines are not expected to provide significant protection against mild coronavirus disease or infections.

According to THL, the new variant is unlikely to be more dangerous than previous ones, and the epidemic situation in Finland has been calm in the summer. About 90% of the coronavirus variants detected in Finland and around the world have been XBB sub-lineages. Currently, the omicron variant sub-lineage EG.5, which was first detected in February 2023, is spreading rapidly. Its share of all observations has increased especially in China, the United States and South Korea, and by August it had been detected in 51 countries. In Finland, the EG.5 variant was detected for the first time in early June and its share of all observations was about 5% in July. THL estimates that XBB-tailored vaccines will likely provide better protection against infections caused by new XBB variants than vaccines based on previous omicron variants.