Germany’s health minister says the country’s independent vaccine committee has formally approved giving the AstraZeneca shot to people age 65 and over
The decision was “good news for older people who are waiting for a vaccination,” said the minister, Jens Spahn. “They will get vaccinated faster.”
But the publication of data and pressure to speed up the EU’s slow vaccine rollout has prompted authorities across the bloc to revise their guidance.
The independent committee, known by its German acronym StiKo, also advised waiting 12 weeks between administering the first and second AstraZeneca shots, as studies show this increases the vaccine’s effectiveness, Spahn said.
He said both recommendations will be swiftly incorporated in Germany’s vaccine rules, which the government announced late Wednesday would be overhauled to allow more people to get the shots sooner.
Restrictive rules and a rush of deliveries mean Germany is sitting on a stockpile of more than 2 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine even as many who want it can’t get the shots.
France, Belgium and Italy already loosened their age restrictions for the AstraZeneca vaccine earlier this week as they scramble to confront a looming third spike in COVID-19 cases driven by more contagious virus variants.