News story | Date: 30/04/2021
The interval between the first and second dose of the mRNA vaccines (Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna) is being extended to up to 12 weeks for all age groups under 65 years following a recommendation from the Norwegian Institute of Public Health. This only applies to people without underlying health conditions. According to preliminary estimates from the Norwegian Institute of Public Health, people aged 18 to 44 years will be offered vaccination up to 5 weeks earlier than expected in the more conservative vaccination scenario.
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The recommendation will come into effect on Monday 3 May but will not apply retroactively. This means that people who have received their first dose and have received an appointment for the second dose will keep their scheduled appointment. Presently there is a 6-week interval.
“We received the recommendation from the Norwegian Institute of Public Health today, and we have decided to follow it. By extending the interval, we ensure that more people are vaccinated sooner. This will contribute to the prevention of serious illness and death, and the reduction of infection levels in society”, says Minister of Health and Care Services Bent Høie.
Recent knowledge on the effects of vaccination using an mRNA vaccine suggests that there is but minimal difference in antibody levels between 6 weeks and 12 weeks after vaccination. Consequently, these vaccines provide good protection for the first 12 weeks after the first dose.
“It is important that everyone takes the second dose at the right time in order to be fully vaccinated”, stresses Mr Høie.
Preliminary estimates from the Norwegian Institute of Public Health show that people aged 18 to 44 years may be offered the first dose of the vaccine up to 5 weeks sooner than according to the current more conservative scenario. That means week 29 (19–25 July) instead of week 34 (23–29 August).
If the AstraZeneca and Janssen vaccines are rolled out in Norway following presentation of the Vorland Committee’s report on 10 May, this will also affect the pace of vaccination.