A vaccination point in Hungary – Photo: MTI

Socialists: 3rd jab could unlock travel for many Hungarians

Chief medical officer proposes booster jabs to fight virus variants

At-risk groups should accept booster jabs of the coronavirus vaccine to fend off new variants of the disease, the chief medical officer said on Tuesday. Booster jabs will be available from August 1 for those who have received their second vaccine at least 4 months prior, Cecilia Muller said. Elderly citizens and those battling chronic illness or have a weakened immune system are especially encouraged to register for a booster jab, she said.

Meanwhile, Hungary remains one of the European countries closest to herd immunity, with 5.6 million people having received the first and 5.3 million both doses, she said.

Muller said the booster jab should be different from the original vaccine. Thus, those who received two doses of a vector vaccine earlier should now get an inactivated vaccine or one based on mRNA technology, to achieve a stronger immune response, she said.

At the same time, GPs and doctors will have the last decision on the individual jabs, she said.

Registration for the booster jab will open in the coming days at the www.eeszt.gov.hu website, she said.

The number of new coronavirus cases in Hungary has grown by 20 percent in recent weeks, Muller said.

Trace amounts of the virus detected in wastewater, an indicator of the pandemic’s course in the coming weeks, have grown in Budapest and the cities of Pecs, Miskolc, Szekszard and Salgotarjan, she said.

While case numbers are as yet low, the growth is obvious and is clearly driven by the delta variant of the virus, originally detected in India, Muller said. The variant is expected to cause 80-90 percent of new infections, she added.

Socialists: 3rd jab could unlock travel for many Hungarians

The opposition Socialist party is turning to the European Commission with the aim of allowing Hungarian citizens who received Sinopharm and Sputnik jabs before getting a 3rd European-licenced shot to be included in the EU’s Covid passport system.

MEP Istvan Ujhelyi told an online press briefing on Tuesday that the Hungarian government should take action regarding the matter, noting that recipients of Sinopharm and Sputnik could travel abroad only with major difficulties.

Ujhelyi said he had warned the government repeatedly that only citizens who had received vaccines approved by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) would be eligible for the EU’s Covid passport.

He accused the government of promoting Sinopharm and Sputnik in favour its own special interests.

Many elderly Hungarians received Sinopharm even though it was not recommended for those over the age of 60, he said, adding that many were now unprotected due to the ineffectiveness of the vaccine and susceptible to a fourth wave.

Ujhelyi said the government had given into pressure to allow people to receive booster jabs, allowing those who had received “Eastern vaccines” to get one approved by the EMA.

Official: New vaccinations for elderly start on Sunday

A new vaccination campaign aimed at people over the age of 60 will start on Sunday, while anyone who received the second jab at least four months prior will be able to book an appointment for a third shot, an official said today.

GPs, volunteer doctors and university students will make personal visits to elderly people who have not yet received a jab, the head of the national vaccination team, Istvan Gyorgy, said on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, people booking a third jab will be able to do so online from the second half of the week, he announced.

In Europe, Hungary is the only country carrying out mass vaccinations of people over 12 years of age. Also, so far Hungary is the only country in Europe where it is possible to have a third jab, he said. Hungary, he added, was among the safest European countries epidemiologically.

Minister of Human Resources Miklos Kasler said it would be up to GPs and doctors administering third jabs at vaccine centres to decide which vaccine a person should receive.

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