Sweden recommends fourth COVID-19 jab for the elderly

FILE PHOTO: COVID-19 mass vaccination in Stockholm

STOCKHOLM (Reuters) - Sweden's Health Agency recommended on Monday that people aged 80 or above should receive a second booster shot of COVID-19 vaccine, the fourth jab in total, to ward off waning immunity amid the rampant spread of the Omicron variant.

The recommendation also covered all people living in nursing homes or who receive assisted living services at home. The second booster shot should be administered at least four months after the first booster jab, the agency said in a statement.

Sweden hit record levels of infections earlier this year as Omicron spread rapidly across the country.

But authorities are banking on booster shots and the milder symptoms of the variant to ease the pressure on healthcare and removed restrictions and scaled back testing this month.

Infections remain pervasive and the Health Agency said a growing number of cases among groups at greater risk of serious disease, such as nursing home residents, had been recorded in recent weeks.

"A booster dose strengthens protection. Therefore we believe people 80 years or older will benefit from a second booster dose," Chief Epidemiologist Anders Tegnell said.

As with the first round of booster shots, the jabs should consist of Pfizer/Biontech or Moderna vaccines, the agency said.

(Reporting by Niklas Pollard; Editing by Simon Johnson)