In order to protect individuals at the highest risk of severe illness from Covid-19, the UK Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has recommended that a spring booster vaccine be offered to individuals at the highest risk of severe illness from the disease.
The booster vaccine should be available to people over 75, care home residents, and anyone extremely vulnerable aged five and over. The vaccine is expected to be given six months after someone's previous dose to ensure continued protection. The JCVI recommends that the booster vaccine be given to those at highest risk of severe illness to keep their immunity topped up and protect them throughout the summer.
The JCVI has based its decision on autumn 2022 hospital admission rates for Covid-19, which showed that the risk of becoming seriously ill from the disease was higher in people over 75. The booster vaccine will help protect this vulnerable group from the virus as the UK moves into the summer months. Individuals living in care homes for older adults and people aged five and over who are defined as immunosuppressed will also be offered a booster jab. This includes people who have had organ transplants, blood cancer, or are undergoing chemotherapy treatment for cancer.
The NHS in England will offer the first spring booster doses to those eligible in April, with the campaign running until late June. Wales has confirmed it will start its programme on 1 April. Four different vaccines made by Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, Sanofi/GSK, and Novavax could be used. It is likely that most doses will protect against the Omicron variant as well as previous variants.
Dr Mary Ramsay, head of immunisation at the UK Health Security Agency, has said that Covid-19 is still circulating widely, and there have been recent increases in older people being admitted to hospital. She emphasized the importance of individuals at the highest risk of severe illness not becoming complacent and encouraged everyone eligible to come forward once the booster programme starts.
Children under 12 years of age will be offered a children's formulation of the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine. People at higher risk of severe Covid-19 are also expected to be offered a booster vaccine dose in autumn 2023 in preparation for the winter.
Last autumn, frontline health and care workers, adults aged 50 and over, and some carers and household contacts were offered a booster dose. The new spring booster programme aims to bridge the gap to the planned autumn booster programme and ensure that those at highest risk of severe illness are well protected throughout the summer months.
The UK is offering a spring booster vaccine to individuals at the highest risk of severe illness from Covid-19. The vaccine is expected to be available to people over 75, care home residents, and anyone extremely vulnerable aged five and over. The booster vaccine should be given six months after someone's previous dose, and it is likely that most doses will protect against the Omicron variant as well as previous variants. The programme will run from April to late June, with the NHS in England and Wales leading the effort.