The situation this autumn

At this point in the pandemic, nearly everyone in Switzerland has either been vaccinated and/or has recovered from COVID-19. Their immune systems have therefore been exposed to the coronavirus. The virus variants currently in circulation also cause milder disease than earlier variants. This is why the situation has been revised for autumn 2022 and the vaccine recommendations have been adapted accordingly.

With the new Omicron sub-variants, the protection provided by the vaccine against mild cases has changed by comparison with earlier variants. With the current variants, vaccination offers only little and short-term protection against contracting COVID-19 and suffering mild symptoms. However, the booster reminds the immune system of how to fight the disease. This provides better and longer protection against serious illness from COVID-19. The mRNA vaccines are very effective and offer a very high level of protection against severe disease.

The hygiene and social distancing recommendations are still important to continue protecting yourself.

Who is advised to get a booster this autumn?

We strongly recommend that vulnerable people have a booster:

  • People aged 65 and over
  • People aged 16 and over with a chronic disease
  • People aged 16 and over with trisomy 21
  • Pregnant women

Coronavirus is likely to be more prevalent again from autumn 2022 as people have increasing contact with each other indoors. There will therefore be a high risk of COVID-19 infection throughout the winter. Vaccination offers vulnerable people at least temporary improved individual protection against severe COVID-19 and its complications.

Furthermore, anyone aged 16 and over can get a booster. These people are at very low risk of contracting severe COVID-19 in autumn 2022. Boosters offer slight, short-lived protection against infection and mild disease. This can be important particularly for health professionals and carers of vulnerable people. Boosters are therefore recommended for everyone who would like to reduce their risk of infection for professional and/or personal reasons (moderate/low recommendation level).

Vaccination is also recommended for anyone who is not yet vaccinated against COVID-19. You will find further information in the section “Recommendations for unvaccinated people”.

One dose of vaccine will generally be administered as a booster in autumn 2002.

When should I get my booster vaccination?

The autumn 2022 booster vaccination can be obtained four months or more after your last COVID-19 vaccination or four months or more after a confirmed coronavirus infection.

If you received a booster vaccination in summer 2022, you can obtain a further booster vaccination in autumn 2022 four months or more after your last such vaccination.

Which vaccine is recommended?

For your booster, you should ideally have a variant-adapted (bivalent) mRNA vaccine or the protein vaccine from Novavax if these are available (see further below for exceptions for certain groups). The type of vaccine you had in the past has no impact on the choice of vaccine you receive for your booster.

As far as mRNA (Pfizer/BioNTech or Moderna) vaccines are concerned, either existing (monovalent) vaccines or variant-adapted bivalent vaccines are suitable. Current data show that the mRNA vaccines used to date also provide good protection against severe forms of the disease (including hospitalisations) with the new Omicron variants.

Recommendations for mothers-to-be

Women who are pregnant are at especially high risk in COVID-19 terms. In view of this, we advise you to obtain a COVID-19 vaccination if you are seeking to become pregnant or, if you are pregnant already, from the second trimester (i.e. from the 13th week of your pregnancy) onwards. Vaccination earlier in the pregnancy is also basically possible.

This means that you should get yourself vaccinated if you are trying for a baby, too.
The risk of a severe case of COVID-19 is greater for a pregnant woman than it is for a non-pregnant woman of the same age. Coronavirus infection can also increase the risk of giving birth prematurely. Getting a booster vaccination before or during your pregnancy can provide protection from these risks for you and your unborn child.

Pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers should also ensure that their booster vaccination uses an mRNA vaccine (and not the Novavax protein vaccine).

If you are pregnant or are trying for a baby and have any questions about the vaccination, please discuss these with your doctor or your midwife.

Recommendations for children and adolescents

Vaccination in autumn 2022 is not recommended for children and young people under 16. The risk of children and young people contracting severe COVID-19 is very low. Almost all of them already have antibodies against coronavirus because they have been vaccinated and/or have recovered from COVID-19.

Any non-vaccinated children and young people who would like to have the vaccine can do so subject to the existing recommendations.

Exception: It is recommended that non-vaccinated children and young people aged 5 to 15 years who have a chronic disease receive one dose of vaccine.

Recommendations for unvaccinated persons

If you are at especially high risk in COVID-19 terms, we advise you to get yourself vaccinated against COVID-19 in autumn 2022 by obtaining two vaccine doses four weeks apart.

If you are not at especially high risk in COVID-19 terms, we advise you to get yourself vaccinated against COVID-19 in autumn 2022 by obtaining one dose of the vaccine. Almost everyone in Switzerland has contracted the coronavirus at least once by now. So your immune system will have already coped with the virus once. But a single dose of the vaccine will still help protect you – at least temporarily – from developing severe COVID-19.

Alternatively, if you prefer, you can get yourself vaccinated by obtaining two vaccine doses four weeks apart. This is something you should particularly consider if you believe that you have not had a coronavirus infection to date, or if you are planning to travel abroad.

Further questions

What is a booster vaccination and what is its purpose?

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A booster vaccination is an extra dose of a vaccine. If possible it should be administered before the protection provided by initial immunisation diminishes. Its purpose is to maintain or restore, and prolong, the protection provided by the vaccine. Other vaccinations besides the one for COVID-19 also lose their effect over time and should be renewed. For example, the FOPH recommends getting regular boosters for the vaccination against diphtheria and tetanus (lockjaw).

What’s the difference between initial immunisation and the booster?

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Initial immunisation involves one or more vaccinations that result in the establishment of immune protection against a specific pathogen and its consequences. It triggers an immune response that confers both rapid protection and an immune memory. The immune protection achieved can last for a varying length of time depending on the vaccine and the pathogen. It can be maintained or increased and extended again with a booster vaccination.

A booster is a renewed vaccination against a pathogen. It is administered months after initial immunisation to refresh the immune protection. The booster vaccination reactivates the immune memory created by initial immunisation, and this quickly restores and prolongs immune protection. Some vaccinations work a whole life long, while others have to be refreshed. A booster vaccination differs from initial immunisation in that it leads to sufficient immune protection again within a short period of time with the administration of a (possibly smaller) single dose of vaccine.

You’ll find more information around the booster vaccination here: