Spring Covid booster jab approved for elderly and vulnerable people

21 February 2022, 15:00 | Updated: 21 February 2022, 15:09

The additional booster is advised for people over 75 and vulnerable children aged 12-18
The additional booster is advised for people over 75 and vulnerable children aged 12-18. Picture: Alamy

By Asher McShane

Government vaccine advisers have approved giving another Covid-19 jab to elderly and vulnerable people from the spring in order to maintain their protection against the virus.

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Experts from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) said protection from the jabs declines over time and as many of the oldest adults in Britain received their last dose back in September or October 2021, they were today approving another booster dose.

Health Secretary Sajid Javid said the top-up jab would help those at the highest risk of serious Covid maintain a high level of protection against the virus.

The NHS in England will offer people the jab from around six months after their last dose, with further details due to be set out shortly.

The JCVI said as "a precautionary strategy to maintain high levels of immunity, an extra spring dose is advised around six months after the last vaccine dose."

Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland are expected to make similar announcements after the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) published UK-wide advice.

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The additional booster is being advised for adults aged 75 years and over, residents in a care home for older adults; and people aged 12 years and over who are immunosuppressed.

The vaccines on offer will be: For eligible adults aged 18 years and over, Moderna or Pfizer-BioNTech, and for eligible children aged 12 to 18 years, the Pfizer-BioNTech (Comirnaty) vaccine.

The JCVI also said that a further booster in the autumn of 2022 is likely to be advised for people who are at higher risk of severe Covid-19.

Professor Wei Shen Lim, Chair of COVID-19 vaccination on the JCVI, said: “Last year’s booster vaccination programme has so far provided excellent protection against severe COVID-19.

“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. 

“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.”

Health Secretary Sajid Javid said: “Thanks to our COVID-19 vaccination rollout, we are already the freest country in Europe. It has saved countless lives, reduced pressure on the NHS and is allowing us to learn to live with the virus.

“Today I have accepted the advice from the independent Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) to offer, from spring, an additional COVID-19 booster jab to people aged 75 years and over, residents in care homes for older adults, and people aged 12 years and over who are immunosuppressed. All four parts of the UK intend to follow the JCVI’s advice.

“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 JCVI will keep under review whether the booster programme should be extended to further at-risk groups.

“This is a national mission – the vaccines are the best way to protect yourself and your loved ones and I urge everybody to get your jabs as soon as you can. For anyone who is yet to get a booster, come forward to Get Boosted Now."