Fourth vaccination on offer to over-75s and others, as Health Secretary announces 'spring booster'

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Fourth vaccination on offer to over-75s and others, as Health Secretary announces 'spring booster'

Everyone aged 75 and over will be offered another booster vaccination this spring, Health Secretary Sajid Javid has revealed. And the offer is also going out to residents in care homes for older adults, and anyone aged 12 years and over who is immunosuppressed.

It means they will be eligible for a fourth Covid-19 vaccination, if they have already received two vaccinations and a booster jab. Mr Javid, MP for Bromsgrove, said the top-up jab will help those at the highest risk of serious illness maintain a high level of protection against the virus.

He 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.”

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Mr Javid added: “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.”

It comes as Prime Minister Boris Johnson is set to announce an end to any remaining Covid-19 restrictions, including the requirement to self-isolate if you catch the virus, in a statement to Parliament today. He is also expected to hold a press conference this evening.

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

In interim guidance published for planning purposes, the JCVI said a further dose for older people and those at risk is likely to be needed this autumn. This is because, although vaccines offer strong protection, their effectiveness does wane over time and Covid surges are expected in winter.

The autumn jab campaign is expected to cover a wider group of people than in the spring and could include any new Covid vaccines that are available. It has not yet been decided whether all those currently eligible for an annual flu vaccination will be included.

The vaccines used in the spring program will be the 50mcg Moderna vaccine or 30mcg Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine for adults aged 18 and over. For anyone eligible aged 12 to 18, a 30 mcg Pfizer/BioNTech dose is being offered.

Professor Wei Shen Lim, chairman of Covid-19 vaccination on the JCVI, said: “Last year’s booster vaccination program 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 program later this year.

“The JCVI will continue its rolling review of the vaccination program 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. 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.”

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