A pharmacist prepares the Covid-19 inoculation at Regent Pharmacy in Northampton, Britain, October 21, 2021. REUTERS/Andrew Boyers

Britain’s booster programme for Covid-19 vaccinations is set to be expanded following advice from scientists.

The government’s Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunization (JCVI) said today (November 15) that all healthy adults aged 40-49 should be offered a booster, six months after their second dose.

Previously, the booster programme was limited to those aged 50 and over, and the clinically vulnerable.

So far, some 12.6 million people have had a booster dose.

The latest advice comes after the UK Health Security Agency released data from a real-world study which found the booster gave over 90 per cent protection against symptomatic Covid-19 for people aged 50 years and older.

The JCVI also said that 16 and 17 year olds, who were initially offered only a single dose, should now get a second.

Professor Wei Shen Lim, chair, Covid-19 immunisation, JCVI said: “Booster vaccine doses in more vulnerable adults, and second vaccine doses in 16 – 17 year olds are important ways to increase our protection against Covid-19 infection and severe disease. These vaccinations will also help extend our protection into 2022.”

Following JCVI advise the UK has been using either the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, or the Moderna vaccine in the booster rollout.

The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has maintained that booster doses are safe and side-effects, if any, are either a sore arm or flu-like symptoms.

MHRA chief executive Dr June Raine welcomed JCVI’s announcement on the extension of the booster campaign to 40-49 year olds.

“This further strengthens our ability to ensure people are protected against Covid-19 and saves lives. Our proactive monitoring of the safety of booster doses does not raise any new concerns,” she said.

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