Portugal expands booster shots as COVID-19 cases rise

General view at a vaccination center for coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Seixal, Portugal, Sept. 11, 2021. REUTERS/Pedro Nunes

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LISBON, Nov. 24 (Reuters) – Portugal, one of the world’s most vaccinated countries, will give a quarter of the population COVID-19 booster injections by the end of January, the health secretary said on Wednesday, as authorities try to end a recent increase in infections.

The number of cases in Portugal reached a four-month high of 3,773 on Wednesday. However, the number of deaths remains well below the level seen in January, when the country waged the toughest battle against COVID-19, and the infection rate is much lower than in most of Western Europe.

About 87% of Portugal’s population of just over 10 million people has been fully vaccinated and the rapid adoption of vaccinations is widely acclaimed. That has allowed the country to lift most of its pandemic restrictions. read more

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But as a new wave of pandemic sweeps through Europe, the government is gearing up to announce new rules on Thursday to limit the spread of the coronavirus in the run-up to the holiday season.

Prime Minister Antonio Costa said last week that the government is unlikely to bring back a lockdown and that the measures aim to “disrupt people’s lives as little as possible”. read more

More than 850,000 people have already received a booster injection. Health Secretary Antonio Sales told a news conference that by the end of January, 2.5 million people would receive the additional injection to deal with the “pandemic storm that is not over”.

People 50 and older who have been vaccinated with Johnson & Johnson’s (JNJ.N) A single-dose vaccine would be one of those getting booster shots, Sales added.

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Reporting by Lisbon office; Editing by Andrei Khalip and Bill Berkrot

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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