Previously, STIKO had only suggested a second booster – or fourth Covid jab – for people aged 70 or over, or people aged five and over with weakend immune systems and a particular high risk of a severe course of illness.
People with compromised immune systems are still advised to seek out a fourth dose of the vaccine.
The vaccines panel announced on Thursday that it was expanding its recommendation “with the primary aim of providing particularly at-risk individuals with even better protection against severe Covid 19 diseases and Covid 19-related deaths”.
As a general rule, the fourth dose of vaccine should be an mRNA vaccine such as Pfizer/BioNTech and should be administered no sooner than six months after the third dose or last Covid infection.
In some “justified” cases, this can be shortened to four months.
Health Minister Karl Lauterbach (SPD) welcomed the news on Thursday, stating that the recommendation was “overdue”.
“I definitely advise citizens over 60 to follow STIKO’s advice and not wait for the new vaccines,” Lauterbach told t-online, referring to a new set of vaccines designed specifically to combat infections with Omicron subtypes BA.4 and BA.5.
The number of cases and deaths is still too high, he added. “The vaccines available in Germany, however, reliably protect against death and severe progression of the virus.”