Covid boosters to be offered to over 40s

15 November 2021, 09:37 | Updated: 15 November 2021, 11:18

By Patrick Grafton-Green

All over 40s will be offered a third Covid vaccine as part of the booster rollout, it has been announced.

The jab will be offered to healthy people aged 40 to 49 six months after their second dose, the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) said today.

It also recommended that 16 and 17 year olds, who were initially only offered only one dose, should get a second.

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In bid to limit hospitalisations over the Christmas period, ministers have been urging people to get boosters.

So far, some 12.6 million people have had a third jab.

People aged over 40 will be offered the Pfizer or Moderna jab irrespective of which vaccine they had initially.

Those aged 16 and 17 will given a second Pfizer jab at least 12 weeks after the first.

It comes after a new study highlighted how boosters can significantly increase people's protection against getting a symptomatic case of Covid-19.

Two weeks after getting their booster, adults over 50 had at least 93% reduced risk of getting a symptomatic case of Covid-19, according to the study from the UK Health Security Agency (UKSHA).

Protection against more severe disease and death is expected to be even higher.

Health Secretary Sajid Javid said: "All four parts of the UK intend to follow the JCVI's advice.

"I have asked the NHS to prepare to offer those eligible a vaccine as soon as possible."

He added: "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."

The Scottish Government confirmed on Monday morning that it would be following the recommendations.

The JCVI said the broadening of the booster campaign and the offer of a second jab to 16 and 17-year-olds will "help extend our protection into 2022".

Professor Wei Shen Lim, chair of Covid-19 immunisation for the JCVI, said: "Booster vaccine doses in more vulnerable adults, and second vaccine doses in 16 to 17-year-olds are important ways to increase our protection against Covid-19 infection and severe disease.

"If you are eligible, please make sure to have these vaccines and keep yourselves protected as we head into winter."

Dr June Raine, chief executive of the MHRA, added: "Our safety monitoring to date shows that Covid-19 vaccines continue to have a positive safety profile for the majority of people. The vast majority of reactions which are reported relate to expected side-effects such as injection site reactions and flu-like symptoms, as was seen in our initial assessment.

"Our proactive monitoring of the safety of booster doses does not raise any new concerns.

"We also welcome the recommendation for 16 to 17-year-olds to come forward and have a second dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine.

"People can be reassured that when we gave approval for the Pfizer vaccine for those 16 years and over in December 2020, we had thoroughly reviewed all the clinical trial data.

"We have continued to carefully scrutinise all the data we have available to us and our robust surveillance programme includes monitoring all suspected reactions for adolescents as well as adults.

"We ensure all suspected reports are carefully followed up. The Expert Working Group of the Commission on Human Medicines has confirmed that reports of suspected myocarditis (heart inflammation) following Covid-19 vaccines are extremely rare and that the balance of risks and benefits overall remains favourable."