The JCVI has advised the UK government that Brits at higher risk of severe Covid should be offered a booster vaccination this autumn (2023).
The committee also advised that for a smaller group of people, such as those who are older and those who are immunosuppressed, an extra booster vaccine dose in the spring should also be planned for.
“Advice regarding the spring 2023 COVID-19 programme will be provided shortly,” the JCVI said.
“Emergency surge vaccine responses may be required should a novel variant of concern emerge with clinically significant biological differences compared to the Omicron variant.”
Professor Wei Shen Lim, Chair of COVID-19 vaccination on the JCVI, said: “The COVID-19 vaccination programme continues to reduce severe disease across the population, while helping to protect the NHS.
“That is why we have advised planning for further booster vaccines for persons at higher risk of serious illness through an autumn booster programme later this year.
“We will very shortly also provide final advice on a spring booster programme for those at greatest risk.”
The UK government said that the most recent coverage data (January 15, 2023) following the 2022 COVID-19 autumn booster vaccination campaign, which commenced in early September last year, showed 64.5 per cent in those aged 50 years and over and 82.4 per cent in those aged 75 years and over.
By the end of summer 2022, the coverage of the 2022 spring booster programme was 77.3 per cent in those aged 75 years and over, the government said.
“Following high uptake rates for the initial (third) booster dose of COVID-19 vaccine in December 2021, further uptake has been low at less than 0.1 per cent per week since April 2022 in all eligible people under 50 years of age,” it added.
“Similarly, uptake of primary course vaccination, which has been widely available since 2021, has plateaued in recent months across all age groups.”
The JCVI noted that “as the transition continues away from a pandemic emergency response towards pandemic recovery […] the 2021 booster offer (third dose) for persons aged 16 to 49 years who are not in a clinical risk group should close.”
It said it should close “in alignment with the close of the autumn 2022 booster vaccination campaign.”
It also stated that in England, the closure of the autumn booster campaign and the first booster offer will be on February 12, 2023.
“We strongly encourage everyone who is currently eligible for a first booster and is yet to come forward to do so before the offer closes,” it said.
Similarly, the JCVI is advising that the primary course of Covid-19 vaccination should “move, over the course of 2023, towards a more targeted offer during vaccination campaigns to protect those persons at higher risk of severe COVID-19.”
“We strongly encourage individuals who have not had a primary course to come forward for their primary course before the offer closes,” it added.
“The JCVI keeps all advice under constant review and will revise it according to the latest data and evidence.”
“In its 2023 statement, the JCVI also advises that research should be considered to inform the optimal timing of booster vaccinations to protect against severe COVID-19 for groups who are at different levels of clinical risk,” it concluded.
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