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E.U. Mounts Urgent Call for COVID-19 Boosters as Cases Rise Again

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European regulators are urging second booster doses of COVID-19 vaccines for people over 60 years old as cases and hospitalizations are again rising sharply.

Recommendations from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control and the European Medicines Agency also include people with medical conditions that put them at high risk of severe disease, both agencies said in a statement on Monday. Weekly case rates among people age 65 and over increased 32% in 22 of the 24 reporting countries in the week ending July 3 compared to the previous week, according to an ECDC statement.

The new recommendation follows guidance issued in April that called for people over 80 years old to be considered for a second booster. The new mRNA shots can be administered at least four months after the previous one. The agency said that, at present, there is no clear evidence to support giving a second booster to people under 60 who are not at higher risk of severe disease.

“With cases and hospitalizations rising again as we enter the summer period, I urge everybody to get vaccinated and boosted as quickly as possible,” Stella Kyriakides, the E.U.’s health commissioner, said in the statement. “I call on member states to roll out second boosters for everyone over the age of 60 as well as all vulnerable persons immediately.”

Separately, EMA Executive Director Emer Cooke said work is under way toward possible approval of vaccines adapted to counter newer variants in September.

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