Over-75s, care home residents and over-12s who are immunosuppressed will receive an additional Covid booster jab from spring.
The governments of all four UK nations have accepted the advice from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) published today.
The JCVI has also advised UK governments that a further booster is likely to be advised ‘for people who are at higher risk of severe’ Covid this autumn, with more definitive advice to come ‘in due course’.
The JCVI said its recommendations comes as immunity derived from vaccination ‘declines over time’ and ‘many of the oldest adults received their most recent vaccine dose in September or October 2021’.
Therefore, as a ‘precautionary strategy’ to ‘maintain high levels of immunity’ the extra spring dose is adviced ‘around six months after the last vaccine dose’.
Who will be offered a ‘spring’ booster jab?
- adults aged 75 years and over, residents in a care home for older adults; and
- individuals aged 12 years and over who are immunosuppressed, as defined in in the Covid-19 healthcare guidance Green Book.
JCVI Covid chair Professor Wei Shen Lim said that the booster vaccination programme has ‘so far provided excellent protection against severe Covid-19’.
However, ‘to maintain high levels of protection for the most vulnerable individuals in the population, an extra spring dose of vaccine is advised ahead of an expected autumn booster programme later this year,’ he added.
‘The JCVI will continue its rolling review of the vaccination programme and the epidemiological situation, particularly in relation to the timing and value of doses for less vulnerable older adults and those in clinical risk groups ahead of autumn 2022.’
It will also keep under review whether the spring booster programme should be extended to further at-risk groups, said health secretary Sajid Javid.
Mr Javid said: ‘Following the JCVI’s advice, I have asked the NHS to prepare to offer those eligible a vaccine from around six months after their last dose and they will set out further details in due course.
‘We know immunity to Covid-19 begins to wane over time. That’s why we’re offering a spring booster to those people at higher risk of serious Covid-19 to make sure they maintain a high level of protection. It’s important that everyone gets their top-up jabs as soon as they’re eligible.’
The news comes as NHS England advised last week that GPs will not take the lead on the vaccination of children aged five to eleven, due to workload concerns.
The Government has also said that it intends to extend rules that mean a wider range of healthcare professionals can administer vaccines.
This story first appeared on our sister title, Pulse.