Britain to roll out Covid booster shots for people aged 40-49 Boris Johnson looks on as a health worker administers a Covid-19 vaccination to a person at a pharmacy in south east London. (Photo by HENRY NICHOLLS/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
BRITAIN’S Covid-19 booster vaccine rollout is to be extended to people between 40 and 49 years old, officials said on Monday (15), in a bid to boost waning immunity in the population ahead of the colder winter months.
Currently all people over 50, those who are clinically vulnerable and frontline health workers are eligible for boosters, and the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) said the rollout would be extended further.
Britain is mainly using the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna shots in the booster rollout, with people being eligible six months after their second shot.
The advice comes as 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.
Health and social care secretary Sajid Javid said, “We know immunity to Covid-19 begins to wane after six months and new data published today (15) shows a third dose boosts protection against symptomatic infection to more than 90 per cent – this highlights just how important it is that everyone eligible gets their top-up jabs as soon as possible.
“I have accepted the advice from the independent experts at the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) to extend the additional offer of a booster jab to people aged 40 and over and offer a second dose of a vaccine to all young people aged 16 to 17 as part of the primary vaccination schedule. All four parts of the UK intend to follow the JCVI’s advice.
“The JCVI will keep under review whether the booster programme should be extended to all people under the age of 40 and I look forward to receiving their advice in due course.
“This is a national mission – the vaccines are the best way to protect yourself and your loved ones and I urge everybody to get your jabs as soon as you can.”
The real-world study found that protection against symptomatic disease following a booster was 93.1 per cent for people who were initially given AstraZeneca’s vaccine, and 94 per cent for people who had been given the Pfizer shot originally.
The JCVI added the protection given by boosters against severe disease was expected to be higher.
“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,” said Wei Shen Lim, the JCVI’s Chair for COVID-19 immunisation.
“These vaccinations will also help extend our protection into 2022.”
However, the panel declined to recommend boosters for under 40s, saying it had found no robust evidence of a decline in protection against severe Covid-19 from the original vaccine rollout in that age group.
Prime minister Boris Johnson is leaning on booster vaccines and shots for children to try and withstand winter pressures on hospitals without resorting to another Covid lockdown.