FILE PHOTO: A dose of AstraZeneca vaccine is prepared at COVID-19 vaccination centre in the Odeon Luxe Cinema in Maidstone, Britain February 10, 2021. REUTERS/Andrew Couldridge/File Photo

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has advised that Covid-19 booster programme should be offered in two stages from September, starting with the most vulnerable people.

The booster programme should first cover people who suffer with high risk from serious disease, the committee said in its interim advice.

The priority list includes care home residents, people aged over 70, frontline health and social care workers, clinically extremely vulnerable adults and those who are immunosuppressed.

“The primary objective of any potential Covid-19 booster vaccine programme should be to reduce serious disease, including death,” Professor Wei Shen Lim, Covid-19 Chair for JCVI said.

The committee was asked by the secretary of state for health and social care to consider options and advise on the timing of a booster programme to revaccinate adults.

The key motive of the government is to reduce mortality, morbidity and hospitalisations from Covid-19 over the 2021/22 winter period and through 2022.

It suggested that any potential Covid-19 booster programme should be offered in two stages alongside the annual flu vaccination from September.

In the first stage, a booster jab should be administered to all adults aged over 16 years who are immunosuppressed, those living in care homes for older adults, all adults aged 70 years or over, adults aged 16 years and over who are considered extremely vulnerable and frontline health and social care workers.

In the second stage, booster jabs should be offered to all adults aged 50 years and over, all adults aged 16 to 49 years who are in a flu or Covid-19 at-risk group and adult household contacts of immunosuppressed people.

The committee said that booster vaccination for younger adults can be considered later, as most of them would only receive their second Covid-19 dose in late summer.

Apart from the current UK approved jabs, the UK has placed orders for a range of other Covid-19 vaccines, some of which may become available for use in a booster programme.

JCVI will review the use of these vaccines once they have received UK regulatory approval.

“We will continue to review emerging scientific data over the next few months, including data relating to the duration of immunity from the current vaccines. Our final advice on booster vaccination may change substantially,” Lim said.

JCVI is expected to publish its final advice before September, after considering the latest epidemiological situation.

It will also study additional data from clinical trials and the real-time surveillance of the effectiveness of vaccines over time and emerging variants, before giving final advice.

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