Vulnerable people in UK to be offered spring Covid booster vaccine | Coronavirus

Vulnerable people in the UK are to be offered another Covid booster jab this spring, public health bodies have said, as the virus continues to circulate at high levels.

According to the latest data from Office for National Statistics, about one in 45 people in England, Scotland and Wales had Covid in the week ending 21 February, with the figure at one in 90 for Northern Ireland. In England, infection levels are rising, with people aged 70 and over among those to see an increase.

Now the UK’s Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has announced plans for a spring booster campaign, with Covid jabs set to be offered to people aged five years and over who are immunosuppressed as well as adults 75 years and over, and older adults living in care homes.

Dr Mary Ramsay, head of immunisation at the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA), urged those offered the jab to accept it.

“Covid-19 is still circulating widely, and we have recently seen increases in older people being hospitalised,” she said.

“It is important those at highest risk of severe illness do not become complacent and I would encourage everyone who is eligible to come forward once the booster programme starts.”

The announcement comes a month after the NHS ended the offer of a Covid booster jab to healthy people aged 16 to 49. While initial Covid vaccinations are still available for this group, the JCVI has advised that they too, should be withdrawn in 2023 in favour of a more targeted approach.

The UKHSA said that there will be four vaccines available for use in the spring booster campaign including the Pfizer/BioNTech bivalent jab and the Moderna bivalent, both of which are mRNA vaccines that target two different coronavirus variants, as well as the protein-based Sanofi/GSK vaccine that targets the Beta variant, and the Novavax jab – a protein-based vaccine that targets the original 2020 strain of Covid. The agency said the latter is only to be used when alternative jabs are not considered clinically suitable.

UKHSA said children under 12 years of age who are eligible for a spring booster will be offered a Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine.

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Prof Wei Shen Lim, chair of the JCVI’s Covid-19 Committee, said:”The spring booster programme provides an opportunity for those who are at highest risk of severe illness to keep their immunity topped up.

“This year’s spring programme will bridge the gap to the planned booster programme in the autumn, enabling those who are most vulnerable to be well protected throughout the summer,” he said.

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