Although so-called “breakthrough” COVID-19 infections, where a fully vaccinated person still catches the virus, are much rarer than infections in unvaccinated people, they still occur.
Ugur Sahin, CEO of BioNTech, the German company which developed the Pfizer vaccine, has warned that even three shots of its vaccine are not enough to completely prevent symptomatic infections with the new Omicron variant.
But that doesn’t mean a booster won’t help, and German health authorities recommend that people who have recovered from Covid still get a third shot.
Two doses already reduce hospitalisation from Omicron cases by around 70 percent, with boosters only adding to that protection.
Germany’s Standing Committee on Vaccination (STIKO) now advises that fully vaccinated people who recover from COVID-19 wait three months before getting a booster shot.
Individual doctors may, however, decide to administer a booster as early as four weeks after COVID-19 symptoms resolve.
This discretion is designed to allow doctors to take into account the unique circumstances of individual patients, such as those who are immunocompromised.
The three-month recommendation is considerably longer than some other jurisdictions, with the UK advising those who have recovered from COVID-19 to wait 28 days before getting a booster dose.
In the meantime, BioNTech has confirmed it is working on an Omicron-specific vaccine dose that should be ready in March, with German health experts advising that a fourth dose may soon become necessary.