EU says boosters should be considered for all adults in major reversal

The leader of the European Union's public health agency on Wednesday announced that COVID-19 vaccine booster shots should be considered for all adults. 

Andrea Ammon, director of the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), said that that people older than 40 years old should be prioritized. 

"Countries should also consider a booster dose for all adults 18 years and older, with a priority for people above 40 years old," Ammon said in a statement on the agency's website.

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"There are still too many individuals at risk of severe COVID-19 infection whom we need to protect as soon as possible," her statement also said. "We need to urgently focus on closing this immunity gap, offer booster doses to all adults, and reintroduce non-pharmaceutical measures."

Ammon's recommendation is not binding for EU governments but is likely to be used to shape health policy. 

This guidance is a shift from what the agency previously announced. In a joint statement with the European Medicines Agency, the ECDC said there was "no urgent need for the administration of booster doses of vaccines to fully vaccinated individuals in the general population" in September.

At that point, the agencies had just begun evaluations of whether to recommend the boosters.

The European office of the World Health Organization warned earlier this week that Europe could see more than 2 million total COVID-19 deaths by March, an increase of roughly 700,000 from the virus's current death toll in the 53-country region.