Interim advice from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) recommends plans to offer COVID-19 booster vaccines to the ‘most vulnerable’ groups from September.
The interim advice provides information for the booster doses, with the JCVI recommending the additional jabs for individuals who are most vulnerable to serious COVID-19 ahead of winter.
According to the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC), the two-stage programme will occur alongside the annual flu vaccination programme.
In the first stage, the JCVI advice is to offer a booster jab to all adults aged over 16 years who are immunosuppressed, those living in care homes for older adults, all adults aged 70 years or over, adults aged 16 years and over who are considered clinically extremely vulnerable and frontline health and social care workers.
Following this, the second stage will see booster jabs offered to all adults aged 50 years and over, all adults aged 16 to 49 years who are in a flu or COVID-19 at-risk group and adult household contacts of immunosuppressed people.
The final JCVI advice, expected to be published before September, will consider the latest epidemiological situation, as well as additional data from clinical trials such as Cov-Boost and the real-time surveillance of the effectiveness of vaccines over time and emerging variants.
“We welcome this interim advice, which will help us ensure we are ready in our preparations for autumn. We look forward to receiving the committee’s final advice in due course,” said Sajid Javid, Health and Social Care Secretary.
“We need to learn to live with this virus. Our first COVID-19 vaccination programme is restoring freedom in this country, and our booster programme will protect this freedom. We are working with the NHS to make sure we can rapidly deliver this programme to maintain protection for people in the winter months,” he added.
The JCVI will consider the benefits of booster jabs in younger adults at a later time, according to the DHSC, as most individuals in this group will receive their second COVID-19 vaccine dose ‘in late summer’.