Extra Covid booster in spring for over-75s and high riskon February 21, 2022 at 3:24 pm

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This is a precautionary dose ahead of a wider autumn booster programme, say UK experts.

An older woman getting vaccinated earlier in the pandemic

Image source, Getty Images

An additional booster dose should be offered to all adults over-75 and the most vulnerable over-12s this spring, the UK’s vaccines advisory body says.

Many of the oldest received their latest shot back in the autumn and this extra dose will help top up protection against severe Covid-19.

An autumn booster programme, aimed at a wider group of people, is also planned.

The UK nations are expected to accept the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) advice.

Up until now, only people with severely weakened immune systems had been eligible for a fourth dose – three doses plus a booster.

Those now being offered a second booster this spring, to be administered six months after their previous dose, are:

  • adults aged 75 years and over
  • residents in a care home for older adults
  • individuals aged 12 years and over who are immunosuppressed

Adults will be offered a Pfizer or Moderna vaccine while children aged 12-18 will receive Pfizer.

Around 7.2 million people in the UK aged over 75, who have already had their primary course of Covid vaccines, will be eligible for the extra spring booster.

Another half a million people who are immunosuppressed will also be eligible for the additional booster.

The JCVI said vaccinating these groups was a “precautionary” move and did not mean there was any current danger to their health.

But because people in these groups are at higher risk from Covid-19, have weaker immune systems than other people and were last vaccinated in September of October 2021, their protection from vaccines might be waning more quickly.

Prof Wei Shen Lim, chair of Covid vaccination at the JCVI, said: “Last year’s booster vaccination programme 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 programme later this year.”

Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid said he had accepted the JCVI’s advice and asked the NHS to prepare to offer a vaccine to those eligible. He added that further details would be sent out in due course.

“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,” he said.

“It’s important that everyone gets their top-up jabs as soon as they’re eligible.”

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