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COVID-19 booster dose programme planned for September launch in Britain

The programme will be conducted in two stages for a range of priority groups

Preparations have begun for a COVID-19 booster dose programme in Britain, following new interim advice from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI).

The JCVI has published its preliminary guidance about which groups will be prioritised as part of the booster programme, including care home residents, the over-70s, frontline health and social care workers, clinically extremely vulnerable adults and people who are immunosuppressed.

The programme will be split into two stages, with the first stage starting in September 2021 and continuing into 2022 – the above groups to be offered a booster dose as well as a flu vaccine.

In the second stage, booster doses will be offered to individuals in the following groups ‘as soon as practicable’ after stage one: all adults aged 50 years and over; all adults aged 1 to 49 years in a flu or COVID-19 risk group; and adult household contacts of immunosuppressed individuals.

Public Health England (PHE) added in a statement that booster doses for younger adults will be considered at a later time, as most individuals in this age group will have only received their second dose in late summer.

"The JCVI’s interim advice is that, should a booster programme be required, a third COVID-19 vaccine dose should be offered to the most vulnerable first, starting from September 2021 to maximise individual protection and safeguard the NHS ahead of winter,” said Wei Shen Lim, COVID-19 chair for JCVI.

“Almost all these people would also be eligible for the annual flu vaccine and are strongly advised to have the flu vaccine,” he added.

Although the booster programme has not been finalised, government officials have advised that preparations begin on a ‘precautionary basis’.

Analysis published earlier this week by PHE suggested that the COVID-19 vaccination programme has prevented approximately 7.2 million infections and 27,000 deaths in England so far.

The results were produced using PHE and the University of Cambridge’s MRC Biostatistics Unit’s real-time pandemic surveillance model.

The total prevented infections and deaths were calculated by comparing the estimated impact of vaccination on both infections and mortality against a worst-case scenario, wherein no vaccines were being administered.

“The number of infections and deaths saved by the vaccination programme is not only astoundingly high, but continues to grow exponentially as the vaccination programme continues,” said Paul Birrell, senior research associate at the MRC Biostatistics Unit, University of Cambridge and senior principal modeller at PHE.

“In practice, this analysis highlights that the vaccination programme has given us a path back towards a normal life that wouldn’t otherwise have been possible,” he added.

Article by
Lucy Parsons

2nd July 2021

From: Healthcare



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