MILLIONS of Brits are set to get fourth and fifth Covid jabs by autumn.
Under plans being drawn up to keep the UK primed for any new variants, many more people could have another one or two shots this year.
Yesterday health chiefs confirmed vulnerable Brits will get another booster in spring, with around six months having passed since their last top-up.
Experts were quick to make reassurances this offer is not in response to any looming danger or concerns for people’s safety.
It is instead to get ahead of any waning immunity and ensure those who could be most at risk remain fully protected.
Keeping up with boosters is the best way to stay protected from catching and spreading the virus, and ward off any new variants.
As Boris Johnson ripped up Covid restrictions yesterday, the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunization (JCVI) revealed who will be offered another shot in a few weeks.
Brits over 75 years old, care home residents and people over 12 who are immunosuppressed can get a booster in a few weeks, as long as it’s been six months since their last shot.
Depending on what at-risk group they are in, this would be their fourth or fifth vaccine.
They will be offered a choice of Moderna or Pfizer Covid jabs, with experts unsure what summer will bring but determined to keep immunity up in the vulnerable groups.
Health chiefs also anticipate that, like flu, next winter could bring another wave of Covid challenges – with plans for an autumn vaccination program likely to be drawn up.
This means the same group getting another jab in the spring, will probably be invited back for one more in the autumn.
But the autumn jab campaign is also expected to also include over-50s – and could include any new Covid vaccines that are available.
However, nothing is set in stone yet, with it remaining unclear whether all those currently eligible for an annual flu jab would be included.
Variants and new strains could be as mild as Omicron has proven to be – especially in the vaccinated – but there is also a chance they could prove more severe, which is why vaccines are important.
Who could get extra jabs by autumn?
Under current plans – and if no new variant crops up which requires a different response – this is what is likely to happen this year:
- Healthy over-75’s will be offered a fourth jab in spring, and could also get a fifth vaccine in autumn
- Vulnerable people over 12 will be offered a fourth (or fifth if immunocompromised and already had a fourth) jab in spring, and could also get a fifth (or sixth) vaccine in autumn
- Over 50’s could be offered fourth jabs in autumn
- Anyone under 50 will have to wait and see if they are included in the autumn campaign
It comes as Mr Johnson has revealed his strategy yesterday for stripping back Covid laws and urging people to take personal responsibility after two years of rules and restrictions.
He has rip up isolation laws forcing those testing positive to stay inside, and revealed plans to charge for Covid tests for all but those who really need them.
Health Secretary Sajid Javid said: “Thanks to our Covid-19 vaccination rollout, we are already the freest country in Europe. It has saved countless lives, reduced pressure on the NHS and is allowing us to learn to live with the virus.
“Today I have accepted the advice from the independent Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunization (JCVI) to offer, from spring, an additional Covid-19 booster jab to people aged 75 years and over, residents in care homes for older adults, and people aged 12 years and over who are immunosuppressed.
“All four parts of the UK intend to follow the JCVI’s advice.
“Following the JCVI’s advice, I have asked the NHS to prepare to offer those eligible a vaccine from around six months after their last dose and they will set out further details in due course.
“We know immunity to Covid-19 begins to wane over time. That’s why we’re offering a spring booster to those people at higher risk of serious Covid-19 to make sure they maintain a high level of protection. It’s important that everyone gets their top-up jabs as soon as they’re eligible.”
Extending the spring rollout to people under 75 or in other at-risk groups will be kept under review, the Health Secretary said.
He urged Brits to get their boosters and make sure they have taken up all offers of jabs they are eligible for.
Many won’t have had theirs after thousands were struck down with the bug over the Christmas period, and had to wait 28 days before booking back in.
Now is the time to make sure you’ve had your booster shot, to keep cases down and avoid spreading the bug as restrictions lift.
Professor Wei Shen Lim, Chair of Covid-19 vaccination on the JCVI, said: “Last year’s booster vaccination program has so far provided excellent protection against severe Covid-19.
“To maintain high levels of protection for the most vulnerable individuals in the population, an extra spring dose of vaccine is advised ahead of an expected autumn booster program later this year.
“The JCVI will continue its rolling review of the vaccination program and the epidemiological situation, particularly in relation to the timing and value of doses for less vulnerable older adults and those in clinical risk groups ahead of autumn 2022.”
Yesterday the PM said “people should feel confident again” and urged the nation to “go back to work in the normal way”.
The PM will hail Britain’s bumper vaccine rollout as crucial to falling cases and the key to freedom.
But he will warn that Covid is not yet completely over — and scientists will need to monitor it going forward.
Ministers have already secured 114 million vaccine doses for the next two years.
The latest figures showed a further 74 people died in the previous 24 hours after testing positive for Covid. It takes the total death toll to 160,581.
Meanwhile, 25,696 new cases were reported yesterday.
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