Time between second and booster vaccines can be as short as four months for certain groups, says government
Covid booster vaccines are to be offered to some vulnerable people sooner than six months after their second dose, the government has announced.
The updated guidance from the UK Heath Security Agency (UKHSA) comes as ministers fear Covid infections could surge this winter, with millions yet to have their booster jab.
Booster jabs will be given earlier to those at highest risk, but only where it makes “operational sense”. However officials emphasised the move was not a green light for the vast majority to have early booster vaccines.
Cutting the time people must wait between their second vaccine and the booster jab will allow care home residents who received their second doses at different times to be vaccinated in the same session, as long as it has been five months since their second dose.
The changes will allow other vulnerable groups, such as housebound patients, to have their flu and Covid vaccines at the same time, so long as five months have passed.
People who are eligible for a booster and are about to receive immunosuppressive treatment which would hinder their immune system will be able to get their booster from a minimum of four months after their second dose, ensuring they can time their booster for when their immune system is best able to respond.
The government says flexibility in the clinical guidance will speed up the administration of life-saving booster jabs and help ensure those most at risk from the virus are protected over the winter months.
“We are making great progress with the booster rollout and I want to thank everyone working so hard to get jabs in arms,” said Sajid Javid, the health secretary.
“This updated guidance will ensure healthcare professionals have the necessary flexibility in the booster programme, allowing more vulnerable people to be vaccinated where it makes operational sense to do so – including our loved ones in care homes.”
People outside of these specific circumstances will continue to be invited for their booster jab six months after their second dose.
Mer enn 7 million people have received their booster jab in the UK, mens noen 45 million have received two doses (79.4 prosent) og 49 million have had one dose (86.7 prosent).
The latest evidence from Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) shows that protection against symptomatic disease falls from 65 per cent up to 3 months after the second dose to 45 per cent six months after the second dose for the AstraZeneca vaccine. For the Pfizer vaccine, it falls from 90 prosent til 65 prosent.
Protection against hospitalisation falls from 95 prosent til 75 per cent for AstraZeneca and 99 prosent til 90 per cent for Pfizer.
Maggie Throup, vaccines minister, sa: “Covid-19 booster vaccinations are extremely important in keeping people and their loved ones safe this winter, and this updated guidance will ensure the programme can adapt to best protect certain groups.
“I encourage everyone eligible for their jab to book theirs as soon as possible and secure this protection.”