Fourth Covid jab not yet needed as boosters provide 'good protection', say UK advisers

7 January 2022, 19:36

A fourth Covid jab is not yet needed, the UKHSA has said.
A fourth Covid jab is not yet needed, the UKHSA has said. Picture: Alamy

By Emma Soteriou

Brits do not yet need a fourth Covid-19 jab due to boosters still providing "good protection" against the virus, the UK's health advisers have said.

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The level of protection among older adults - who were the first to receive their third jabs from September - remained high against Omicron, data from the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) shows.

However, protection against milder symptoms drops by around 30 per cent within the same period.

With just two vaccine doses, protection against severe disease drops to around 70 per cent after three months and to 50 per cent after six months.

As a result of the findings, the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) said the priority should instead be ensuring everyone gets three doses.

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Prof Wei Shen Lim, the JCVI's chair of Covid immunisation, said: "The current data show the booster dose is continuing to provide high levels of protection against severe disease, even for the most vulnerable older age groups.

"This is highly encouraging and emphasises the value of a booster jab.

"With Omicron continuing to spread widely, I encourage everyone to come forwards for their booster dose, or if unvaccinated, for their first two doses, to increase their protection against serious illness."

In a statement released from the JCVI, they said an immediate second booster for the most vulnerable would only provide limited additional benefit, while adding to growing pressure on the NHS.

They suggested alternatives, such as variant-specific vaccines, may instead become available throughout the year, potentially providing long-term protection.

Data will continue to be reviewed to see if there will be a need for further booster doses later down the line.