Third vaccination rollout begins in Czech Republic

Thousands of people around the Czech Republic have begun receiving text messages informing them that they are in line for a third jab against the coronavirus. Over a million booster shots should be administered by the end of 2021.

On Monday almost 8,000 people around the Czech Republic were due to get mobile text messages informing them that they are now eligible for a third round of vaccination against Covid-19.

The SMS alerts are for those who completed their initial inoculation against the virus at least eight months ago.

The minister of health, Adam Vojtěch, said in a tweet on Monday that the booster doses were intended for members of relatively vulnerable groups.

This initially concerns seniors in care homes and members of the medical professional.

People can register online and receive a third dose from their GP, or turn up at a vaccination centre without registration, Minister Vojtěch told Czech Radio.

“If somebody wants to go, without registering first, to a vaccination centre, they can do so and receive a third dose. The vaccination centres are prepared – they have doses both for those getting vaccinated for the first time and for those who need a booster shot.”

Adam Vojtěch | Photo: Office of Czech Government

However, those who would prefer their own doctor to administer a third shot may have to wait. At present GPs do not have supplies of one of the most commonly used vaccines, Pfizer-BioNTech.

“GPs will get the Pfizer vaccine for third shots from October. But it’s not a question of days. The third, or booster, dose is not actually imperative. There is no reason for panic. It’s not necessary to get vaccinated on that very day. If somebody gets the vaccine at some time in the coming months, for instance, there is no problem at all. So there’s really nothing to be nervous about.”

The Czech government decided on an eight-month period between second and third jabs.

European Union experts are weighing up whether a third dose given six months after a second jab meaningfully improves immunity for healthy adults.

If the EU does approve a six-month gap, the Czech Republic will follow suit, says Minister Vojtěch.

“We based our system on accessible data from Israel and elsewhere. But if the European Medicines Agency approves six months as the term for booster shots we will respect that and cut our term to six months.”

Around 40,000 people in the Czech Republic should have received SMSes pertaining to third jabs by the end of September. Over a million booster shots are set to be administered by the end of 2021.

Some people with weak immunity, such as those who have undergo transplants, are being recommended to get a third shot even before eight months have elapsed.

The Czech Ministry of Health says those who have been vaccinated twice and have tested positive for Covid need not get vaccinated again.