Booster vaccinations will be offered to people aged 50 and over, people in nursing homes and frontline health and welfare workers, the government has announced.
Experts said the Pfizer / BioNTech vaccine should be used as a booster dose to more than 30 million people and that it can be safely given along with the usual winter flu shot.
Anyone who is clinically extremely at risk and anyone aged 16 to 65 in a risk group for Covid (who were in priority groups one to nine when the vaccine was first introduced) are also eligible for a vaccination.
Three vaccines have been approved as safe and effective as boosters – AstraZeneca, Pfizer, and Moderna – but experts chose Pfizer after studies showed it was well tolerated and worked well as a booster.
The Pfizer booster vaccination can be given to people who have previously received two doses of AstraZeneca.
Moderna can be used as an alternative if needed, but as a half-dose booster dose after studies showed it was effective with few side effects.
People should get their third booster dose at least six months after receiving the second dose of a Covid vaccine.
When more data are available, experts want to examine whether boosters should also be offered to healthy people under the age of 50.
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