The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has advised the UK government that those at a higher risk of severe COVID-19 should be offered a booster vaccination this autumn.
In its interim advice, the JCVI also recommended that a smaller group of people, such as those who are older and those who are immunosuppressed, should also be given an extra booster dose in the spring.
The JCVI also stated that an emergency surge vaccine response may be required if a new variant of concern emerges that has 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.”
He also added that the committee will be providing final advice on a spring booster programme for those at the greatest risk of developing severe COVID-19 “very shortly”.
The 2022 COVID-19 autumn booster campaign began in early September last year, and more than 82% of people aged over 75 years and more than 64% of those aged over 50 years have received the vaccine since that rollout began.
Following high uptake rates for the initial booster dose in December 2021, further uptake has been low at less than 0.1% per week since April 2022 for all eligible individuals under 50 years of age, the JCVI said.
The JCVI also outlined that uptake of primary course vaccination, which has been widely available since 2021, has plateaued in recent months across all age groups.
The JCVI is now advising that, over the course of this year, the primary course of COVID-19 vaccinations should move towards a ‘more targeted’ offering during vaccination campaigns to protect those at higher risk of severe COVID-19, stating: ‘We strongly encourage individuals who have not had a primary course to come forward for their primary course before the offer closes.’
The JCVI also advised that it would be helpful if research could be done to show when the best time was to give the booster vaccinations that protect against severe COVID-19 for groups who are at different levels of clinical risk.
27th January 2023
From: Regulatory, Healthcare
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