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Vulnerable people in Wales will be offered a fourth Covid jab

Wales’ most vulnerable people will be offered a fourth dose of a Covid booster.

The Welsh Government’s health minister, Eluned Morgan said that adults aged over 75, residents in a care home for older adults, and those over 12 who are immunosuppressed will be offered a fourth Covid booster this spring.

It follows the recommendation of the UK advisory body the JCVI and the same announcement from UK Government minister Sajid Javid earlier on February 21.

Mrs Morgan said because older people were given their jabs first, “older persons are also now furthest in time from their last vaccine dose”.

Health boards are already planning on rolling out jabs for all five to 11-year-olds.

“Health boards are already planning to offer the vaccine to all five to 11 year olds from mid-March onwards and they will now also be factoring in the need to prioritize a spring booster for the most vulnerable during this time,” she said.

Mrs Morgan said: “As we know, getting vaccinated is the best course of action people can take to protect themselves from Covid-19 and it is pleasing to note that 70% of those eligible have now received a Covid-19 booster dose in Wales .Every vaccine given helps to keep Wales safe.The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunization (JCVI), as part of its latest review of the vaccination programme, has published a statement today, which recommends an additional spring booster dose for our most vulnerable individuals .

“The committee has recommended, as a precautionary strategy, a second booster dose in the spring for adults aged 75 years and over; residents in a care home for older adults, and individuals aged 12 years and over who are immunosuppressed (as defined in in the Green Book).

“In making this recommendation they considered available data from the UK and internationally which suggests that older people are more likely to experience waning of immunity due to a decreased capacity of the immune system to respond effectively to infections or vaccines, and much more likely to experience severe disease if infected.

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“Practically, because they were prioritized for vaccination at the start of the Covid-19 vaccine programme, older persons are also now furthest in time from their last vaccine dose. I have accepted this advice and have asked health boards to plan for when they can start deployment. Health boards are already planning to offer the vaccine to all five to 11 year olds from mid-March onwards and they will now also be factoring in the need to prioritize a spring booster for the most vulnerable during this time.”

She said: “Winter remains the season when the threat from Covid-19 is greatest both for individuals and for health communities and, for the purposes of longer term planning, the JCVI has also signaled an autumn 2022 program of vaccinations will be indicated for people who are at higher risk of severe Covid-19, such as those of older age and in clinical risk groups.Precise details of an autumn program will be made available at a later stage.As the COVID-19 pandemic moves further towards endemicity in the UK, the JCVI will continue to review the vaccination program and I thank them for their expert advice.

“Whilst we continue to roll out our successful booster programme, it is not too late for anyone who needs a first, second or booster dose to be vaccinated. Health boards are actively following up on anyone who has not been able to take up their offer of a booster. As ever, I am extremely grateful to the NHS and everyone involved in the vaccination program for their continued hard work.”

Speaking earlier in the day, Mr Javid said: “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.

“The JCVI will keep under review whether the booster program should be extended to further at-risk groups. 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. For anyone who is yet to get a booster, come forward to Get Boosted Now.”

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