U.K. government advisers recommend against fourth Covid-19 vaccine dose

LONDON – UK government advisors have advised against giving nursing home residents and people over 80 a fourth dose of Covid-19 vaccine, as data shows that a third vaccination offers permanent protection against hospitalization.

For people over 65, protection from hospitalization remains around 90 percent three months after the third dose, according to data compiled by the UK Health Authority.

As a result, the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunization told the government on Friday that there was no need to offer a fourth dose or a second booster vaccination to those at risk at this point. Instead, the government should focus on giving as many people as possible a third dose to increase protection against the highly transmissible variant of omicron.

“The current data shows that the booster dose continues to offer high protection against serious illnesses even for the most vulnerable older age groups,” said Prof. Wei Shen Lim, chairman of the committee. “For this reason, the committee has concluded that the introduction of a second booster dose is not immediately necessary, but that this is still under review.”

The UK is trying to offer booster syringes to adults across the country after research shows two doses are not enough to protect people from Omicron. The variant has led to an increase in coronavirus infections and hospital stays.

The number of people hospitalized in the UK with Covid-19 rose to 18,454 on Thursday, more than double the number two weeks earlier.

The increasing absence of staff in British hospitals has already led the military to provide assistance to doctors and nurses who have been besieged.

More than 39,000 hospital workers in England were unable to work for reasons related to Covid-19 as of January 2, 59 percent more than the previous week, according to NHS England.

The respected trade publication, the Health Service Journal, said staff absenteeism across the National Health Service, including mental health trusts and other areas, could be as high as 120,000.

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