Most vulnerable to be offered COVID-19 booster jabs from September
Millions of people will be offered a third COVID-19 booster vaccination alongside the winter flu jab.
The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) said the booster jab would mean continued protection for those who have already had two doses.
The JCVI’s interim advice is to plan to offer COVID-19 booster vaccines from September in order to prolong the protection vaccines provide in those who are most vulnerable to serious COVID-19 ahead of the winter months.
The vaccination will be offered in a two-stage programme alongside the annual flu jab.
Health secretary Humza Yousaf said: “The Scottish Government welcomes the interim advice from the JCVI that - in order to maximise protection in those most vulnerable to serious COVID-19 - booster vaccines should be offered to certain priority groups from September.
“The committee will consider additional scientific data as it becomes available over the next few months ahead of formulating final advice. In the meantime we have been working closely with NHS boards to plan for this potential booster campaign, in line with this interim advice.
“The current COVID-19 vaccination programme continues at pace and remains on schedule to complete adult first doses ahead of target next month, and second doses in September.
“It remains vital that everyone has both doses of the vaccine for greatest protection. To make this as easy as possible, the number of drop-in clinics for everyone over the age of 18 is being increased across the country.”
The latest data shows that the vaccines appear to be doing their job, with rising case numbers not leading to the number of hospital admissions and deaths seen in previous waves.
The JCVI said there was good evidence that two doses of any COVID-19 vaccine would provide strong protection against severe disease for at least six months for the majority, and there is some evidence that longer lasting protection may be afforded to some.
Care home residents, adults over 70 and frontline health workers will be the first to be offered the booster jab, along with all those aged over 16 who are immunosuppresed.
The second stage of the rollout will include all adults aged over 50.
The JCVI said it was still considering the situation for younger adults, many of whom are yet to receive their second dose.
The success of the vaccination programme is weakening the link between cases and hospitalisations. The latest analysis from Public Health England (PHE) and the University of Cambridge suggests that vaccines have so far prevented an estimated 7.2 million infections and 27,000 deaths in England alone.
Data from Public Health England (PHE) shows that COVID-19 vaccines are highly effective against hospitalisation from the Delta (B.1.617.2) variant. The analysis suggests the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is 96% effective and the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine is 92% effective against hospitalisation after two doses.
Vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi said: “Our COVID-19 vaccination programme has been a roaring success, with almost 85 per cent of adults across the UK receiving a first dose and more than 62 per cent getting both doses.
“We are now planning ahead to future-proof this progress and protect our most vulnerable from variants and flu ahead of the winter.
“Vaccines are the best way to stay on top of this virus and I urge everybody to take up the offer as soon as possible.”