LONDON — All adults aged 50 and over, front-line health care workers, people living in care homes and those at higher risk of severe COVID-19 should be offered a booster coronavirus vaccine, the committee that advises the U.K. government on vaccination said today.
The new advice from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) is likely to be taken up by the government imminently and will mean that significantly more people are able to access a third dose.
Previously, the committee had recommended a third dose only for people with compromised immune systems. Today’s guidance also recommended a booster for people living with those who have compromised immune systems.
Explaining its reasoning, the JCVI said that the country needed to maintain a “high level of protection” from hospitalization or dying from the virus through the coming winter, and was recommending the third dose on a “precautionary principle.” The JCVI cited early data from older people indicating a gradual decline in the vaccine’s protection against severe disease.
The third dose should be offered to people no earlier than six months after completing their primary course of the vaccine. The committee said that this means that the booster program could begin for some people “as soon as operationally practical.”
The U.K.’s medicines regulator has already authorized both the BioNTech/Pfizer and Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccines as boosters. However, the JCVI is advising that everyone receive the BioNTech/Pfizer vaccine as a booster. Alternatively, the committee said a half-dose of the Moderna jab could be offered.
The announcement comes ahead of the government outlining its plan later today for how it plans to prepare the health system for the winter.
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