A Covid vaccination booster programme could begin for 32 million people in Britain as soon as September, officials have said.
New interim guidance from experts advising the Government will set out the priority list for who should get a third jab, if a booster programme is needed.
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At a glance: 5 key points
- Officials are waiting for more data on whether a third vaccine is required to bolster protection over the winter months
- People in two stages will be offered a single jab as a booster, so the rollout will be logistically easier for the NHS
- It will coincide with the rollout of flu jabs, which health officials have said will be vital this winter as they prepare for a potentially difficult flu season
- The first stage will see 15 million of the most vulnerable people across the UK offered a booster including over-70s, health and care workers, older care home residents, the clinically extremely vulnerable (those who were asked to shield previously), and people who are immunocompromised
- The second stage will extend to a further 17 million people including over-50s, adults over the age of 16 who usually are offered a free NHS flu jab, those aged 16-49 in a Covid at-risk group, and people who are in regular contact with someone who is immunocompromised
What’s been said
Professor Wei Shen Lim, Covid-19 chairman for the committee, said: “The JCVI’s interim advice is that, should a booster programme be required, a third Covid vaccine dose should be offered to the most vulnerable first, starting from September 2021 to maximise individual protection and safeguard the NHS ahead of winter.
“Almost all these people would also be eligible for the annual flu vaccine and are strongly advised to have the flu vaccine.
“We will continue to review emerging scientific data over the next few months, including data relating to the duration of immunity from the current vaccines. Our final advice on booster vaccination may change substantially.”
The plans have been drawn up to ensure the NHS is prepared for any possible booster jab campaign while officials await more data on whether a third vaccine is required to bolster protection over the winter months.
Officials have stressed that a third vaccine may not be needed but scientific advisers to the Government have said they are “taking no chances” and want to give the health service as much time as possible to plan.
Officials will know more when they get results from the CovBoost trial, which is expected to report back in August.
Experts previously said it was too early to say whether other people not listed in Stage 1 or Stage 2 will need a Covid vaccine booster this winter.
Additional reporting by PA.