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COVID-19

Norway to offer Covid-19 booster jabs to over 65s 

People over 65 in Norway will be offered coronavirus booster jabs six months after their second dose, Minister of Health Bent Høie said on Tuesday. 

Over 65's will be offered a booster shot in Norway. Pictured is somebody receiving a Covid-19 vaccine.
Over 65's will be offered a booster shot in Norway. Pictured is somebody receiving a Covid-19 vaccine. Photo by Ed Us on Unsplash

Over-65s will be offered a third Covid-19 vaccine to boost their protection against coronavirus, Høie announced at a government briefing. 

“The goal of offering a booster is to increase protection against serious illness. In addition, we hope that refreshing doses will provide extended protection and better protection against new variants,” Høie said

The booster dose will be offered six months after their second jab for people who have received the Moderna or Pfizer vaccines or after the same period after one jab of Johnson & Johnson’s single-dose Janssen vaccine. 

An mRNA vaccine, either Moderna or Pfizer, will be given to those who have had a Johnson & Johnson jab.  

The government has also asked the Norwegian Institute of Public Health (NIPH) to assess whether a third dose should be offered to healthcare workers under 65. 

“The government has given an assignment to NIPH to assess booster vaccination in health personnel under the age of 65,” Høie said. 

The Norwegian Nurses Association has previously requested that healthcare workers be offered the third dose. 

NIPH will also assess whether it will offer a booster jab to people under 65. 

The decision to offer a booster dose in Norway comes after the European Medicines Agency (EMA) announced that its human medicines committee (CHMP) concluded that an extra dose of the COVID-19 vaccine Comirnaty (BioNTech/Pfizer) may be given to all over-18s. 

READ MORE: EU medicines agency approves Covid-19 booster vaccine for all adults

Director of infection control at the NIPH, Geir Bukholm, said that Norway had been waiting on the EMA’s decision before deciding to press ahead with boosters. 

“EMA approved Pfizer yesterday, and this is a seal of quality to take into account,” Bukholm said. 

The government expects to begin administering booster shots at the turn of the month. The order of who will receive a booster will be the same as when the vaccination program began starting with people aged over 85 and those in nursing homes. 

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TRAVEL NEWS

Covid face mask rule on flights in Europe set to be eased

The mandatory EU-wide mask requirement for air travel is set to be dropped from Monday, May 16th, but airlines may still require passengers to wear masks on some or all flights

Covid face mask rule on flights in Europe set to be eased

Europe-wide facemask rules on flights are set to be ditched as early as next week in light of new recommendations from health and air safety experts.

The European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) dropped recommendations for mandatory mask-wearing in airports and during flights in updated Covid-19 safety measures for travel issued on Wednesday, May 11th.

The new rules are expected to be rolled out from Monday, May 16th, but airlines may still continue to require the wearing of masks on some or all of flights. And the updated health safety measures still say that wearing a face mask remains one of the best ways to protect against the transmission of the virus.

The joint EASA/ECDC statement reminded travellers that masks may still be required on flights to destinations in certain countries that still require the wearing of masks on public transport and in transport hubs.

It also recommends that vulnerable passengers should continue to wear a face mask regardless of the rules, ideally an FFP2/N95/KN95 type mask which offers a higher level of protection than a standard surgical mask.

“From next week, face masks will no longer need to be mandatory in air travel in all cases, broadly aligning with the changing requirements of national authorities across Europe for public transport,” EASA executive director Patrick Ky said in the statement. 

“For passengers and air crews, this is a big step forward in the normalisation of air travel. Passengers should however behave responsibly and respect the choices of others around them. And a passenger who is coughing and sneezing should strongly consider wearing a face mask, for the reassurance of those seated nearby.”  

ECDC director Andrea Ammon added: “The development and continuous updates to the Aviation Health Safety Protocol in light of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic have given travellers and aviation personnel better knowledge of the risks of transmission of SARS-CoV-2 and its variants. 

“While risks do remain, we have seen that non-pharmaceutical interventions and vaccines have allowed our lives to begin to return to normal. 

“While mandatory mask-wearing in all situations is no longer recommended, it is important to be mindful that together with physical distancing and good hand hygiene it is one of the best methods of reducing transmission. 

“The rules and requirements of departure and destination states should be respected and applied consistently, and travel operators should take care to inform passengers of any required measures in a timely manner.”

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