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By choosing to get vaccinated, you choose life

Head of the vaccination advisory group Bojana Beović and Maja Bratuša participated at the press conference on the current situation regarding COVID-19.

Head of the vaccination advisory group Bojana Beović.

Head of the vaccination advisory group Bojana Beović. | Author Urad Vlade RS za komuniciranje

Maja Bratuša initially stressed that, considering yesterday's numbers, the epidemiological situation in the country is very serious. With 7722 PCR tests carried out yesterday, 3456 new cases were confirmed, which is the highest number to date. The share of positive tests was 44.8%. In addition, 35,567 rapid antigen tests were conducted. The number of active cases has risen further and is closing in on the 30,000 mark, with 29,354 active cases in Slovenia according to the National Institute of Public Health. A total of 670 COVID-19 patients are currently hospitalised, of which 159 are in intensive care units. Eighteen persons have died.

In Slovenia, 63% of people aged 18 and over and 74% of people aged 50 and over are fully vaccinated. In total, 51,530 people have received the third dose.

Due to the rapid increase of infections, Ms Bratuša urged all Slovenians to protect themselves.

The head of the vaccination advisory group, Bojana Beović, gave a detailed presentation on the vaccination with the third dose. She said that 2021 brought effective and safe vaccines, which were well researched during controlled trials; however, more infectious COVID-19 variants began to spread at the same time, first the Alpha, followed by the Delta variant, which is as infectious as chickenpox, a disease that is considered to be very infectious.

The Delta variant has somewhat changed the playing field as regards the tackling of the epidemic with vaccines. Nevertheless, all of the vaccines remain highly effective against a severe course of the disease and death, while viral vector vaccines are less effective in preventing the infection itself.

The third dose can be used in two ways

Ms Beović said that the third dose of the vaccine can be used in two ways. It can be used in patients who are considered to not have developed sufficient immune protection after primary vaccination due to severe immune deficiency. This dose can be administered four weeks after the primary vaccination. In Slovenia, mRNA vaccines, i.e. Comirnaty (Biontech/Pfizer) or Spikevax (Moderna), are used for administering extra doses.

However, it can also be used as a booster dose, which is administered due to the vaccines gradually losing effectiveness over time. The European Medicines Agency initially approved the use of mRNA vaccines for extra doses followed by a booster dose of Comirnaty (Biontech/Pfizer), and later a booster dose of Spikevax (Moderna).

The decision on how to use the booster dose was left to the EU Member States in accordance with their epidemiological situation.

In Slovenia, a booster dose is especially recommended for:

  • people aged 50 years and over;
  • particularly vulnerable patients with chronic diseases regardless of their age;
  • residents of homes for the elderly and other social care facilities;
  • family members of immuno‑compromised persons and particularly vulnerable patients with chronic diseases;
  • persons with higher occupational exposure;
  • persons vaccinated with vector vaccines.

All other persons, aged 18 and over may also receive a booster dose. People proven to have recovered from COVID‑19 that have been fully vaccinated do not require a booster dose. The recommended interval between the primary vaccination with mRNA vaccines or a "mix and match" (Vaxzevria and mRNA vaccine) and the booster dose is at least six months. Due to the current epidemiological situation, it is recommended that the booster dose for persons primarily vaccinated with vector vaccines be administered at least two months after the primary vaccination.

An mRNA vaccine should be used for the booster dose, and it should be noted that a half dose of Spikevax (Moderna) should be used as a booster dose.

The head of the vaccination advisory group, Bojana Beović, said that many people are disappointed when they fall ill despite being vaccinated. She highlighted that we need to be aware that no vaccine is 100% effective. Therefore, the advisory group draws particular attention to the importance of vaccinating as many people as possible, which will reduce the risk of a COVID‑19 infection.

Ms Beović warned that the winter season is upon us, which is particularly ideal for the spread of respiratory infections, including COVID-19. Due to the highly infectious nature of COVID-19, as evident from the high number of cases, it is expected that everyone will contract it at some point.

Ms Beović said that we alone decide on the course of the disease: either we are vaccinated and only become mildly ill, if at all, or we risk serious illness, artificial ventilation or even death. Not only that, numerous hospitalisations will make it impossible to adequately treat a high number of patients with severe acute diseases and various diagnoses. "By choosing to get vaccinated, you choose life," emphasised the head of the vaccination advisory group Bojana Beović.