Chile will start administering a fourth Covid vaccine dose to people with weakened immune systems from Monday, President Sebastián Piñera said, as the country recorded its highest number of daily cases in six months.
New case numbers had been stable until the appearance of the Omicron variant saw them soar – as it has in many other countries around the world.
"A person without complete protection is six times more likely to be infected and 20 times more likely to need ICU hospital treatment than a person with a booster dose," Piñera said Thursday.
Chile's vaccination process has been hugely successful, with 87 percent of the population over three fully immunized and almost 67 percent having also had a booster jab.
But Piñera said experience had shown that the effectiveness of vaccines and boosters diminish over time and with the apparition of new variants.
People over the age of 12 with weakened immune systems will start receiving the fourth dose from Monday with all people over 55 eligible from February 7, as long as their last dose was at least six months ago.
On Thursday, Chile reported 3,134 people infected and 30 deaths.
Piñera said the last time the country had as many new cases – on July 8, 2021 – there were 2,167 people requiring help breathing in hospital compared to just 404 this time around.
There were also more than six times as many deaths (186) that day in July.