Booster doses should be given no sooner than three months after people have had their second dose of an original vaccine.
All people aged 18 and over are to be offered a Covid-19 booster vaccine as part of efforts to tackle the spread of the new Omicron une variante.
Millions more people in the UK will become eligible for a third booster dose after early evidence suggested that higher antibody levels may protect better against the variant.
Le Comité mixte de la vaccination et de l'immunisation (JCVI) is now advising that all adults aged 18 à 39 should be offered a booster dose, in order of descending age groups, to increase their level of protection. Those aged 40 and over are already eligible for a booster vaccine.
Booster doses should be given no sooner than three months after people have had their second dose of an original vaccine – shaving three months off the current six-month wait, according to the JCVI.
In further advice, young people aged 12 à 15 should be offered a second dose of the Pfizer BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine, no sooner than 12 weeks after their first dose.
The JCVI also said that severely immunosuppressed people should be offered a booster dose no sooner than three months after completing their primary course of three doses.
Il ajouta: “I think it’s true to say that scientists around the world, not just in the UK, unfortunately agree that this one is of increased concern.”
He said there “are far more things we don’t know yet, than things we do know” about the variant, but that more would become clear, he predicted, in the next three weeks.
He said the “number of mutations present, already on first principle, makes us worry about a possible effect on vaccine effectiveness”.
Urging people not to panic, Prof Van-Tam said there were still uncertainties about how transmissible the variant is and its impact on severity of disease.
“On the effects of the new variants, and how well vaccine effectiveness will hold up, here I want to be clear that this is not all doom and gloom at this stage," il a dit.
“I do not want people to panic at this stage. If vaccine effectiveness is reduced, as seems pretty likely to some extent, the biggest effects are likely to be in preventing infections and, avec un peu de chance, there will be smaller effects on preventing severe disease.
“That is something that is there for scientists to work out in the next few weeks.”
Professor Wei Shen Lim, chair of the JCVI said: “Having a booster dose of the vaccine will help to increase our level of protection against the Omicron variant.
“This is an important way for us to reduce the impact of this variant on our lives, especially in the coming months.
“If you are eligible for a booster, please take up the offer and keep yourself protected as we head into winter.”
The professor told the briefing there was an increased likelihood of a “mismatch” between current vaccines and the variant, which may reduce the effectiveness of vaccines.
But he said a boost of either Moderna or Pfizer could really push up the immune response.
“If we can raise the level of immune response of the vaccine, that higher level of immune response will reach out and provide an extra level of protection to mismatched variants”, il a dit.
The expert said there was also a need to deploy booster vaccines “before the wave starts” with any new variant, which is why the new expansion of the vaccine programme is being brought in.
In its advice to ministers, the JCVI said that both the Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech vaccines can be given as a booster for adults – with equal preference given to both.
In a speech to the King’s Fund annual conference on Monday, Amanda Pritchard, chief executive of the NHS in England, said NHS staff will “move heaven and earth to vaccinate as many people as possible” to ensure that people can enjoy Christmas with their loved ones.
But she said volunteers are needed to help the “vital national effort” of expanding the coronavirus vaccine programme, adding the service “will not be able to do it alone”.
Dr June Raine, chief executive of the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), mentionné: “Our safety monitoring to date shows that Covid-19 vaccines continue to have a positive safety profile for the majority of people.
“When you are called for your booster dose, you can come forward confident that the benefits in preventing serious Covid-19 far outweigh any risks.”
On Monday afternoon, health ministers from the G7 group of nations held an urgent meeting to discuss the impact of Omicron.
A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said Health Secretary Sajid Javid had “underlined the importance of Covid-19 surveillance and countries’ abilities to quickly share findings with the international community as well as the role of booster vaccination programmes to strengthen our defences”.
The UK now has 11 confirmed cases of the variant. The Scottish government announced on Monday morning it had discovered four cases in Lanarkshire and two in the Greater Glasgow and Clyde area.
One other case has been identified in Brentwood, Essex, with another in Nottingham, while a case was detected in England on Sunday in a person with travel links to southern Africa who visited Westminster before leaving the country.
Two more cases in England were announced on Monday in Croydon and Wandsworth in London.
From Tuesday, the wearing of face masks is set to be compulsory in shops and on public transport, while PCR tests will be brought back in for travellers returning to the UK.