Sweden is recommending a fifth COVID-19 vaccine dose for people with an increased risk of becoming seriously ill, including pregnant women and anyone aged 65 and over, authorities said Tuesday, adding that the country must “be prepared for an increased spread during the upcoming autumn and winter season.”
“The vaccine is our strongest tool for preventing serious illness and death,” Swedish Social Affairs Minister Lena Hallengren said, adding the pandemic is not over.
As of Sept. 1, Sweden recommends that another booster shot is given to people aged 65 and older and people over 18 in the risk groups. The Swedish Public Health Agency said the latter includes pregnant women, people with weakened immune systems and people with heart and lung disease.
“In general, the risk of serious illness is assessed as low for adults under the age of 65 who have been vaccinated with three doses, but the risk increases with age and varies within the group,” agency chief Karin Tegmark Wisell said.
For most of the pandemic, Sweden stood out among European nations for its comparatively hands-off response. It never went into lockdown or closed businesses, largely relying instead on individual responsibility.