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JCVI publishes advice on COVID-19 vaccines ahead of autumn booster campaign

The programme was expanded in response to the Omicron variant to include everyone aged 50 and over

COVID vaccine

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has published its advice on which COVID-19 vaccines should be used in this year’s autumn booster programme.

For adults aged 18 years and above, the JCVI’s advised vaccines include Moderna’s mRNA (Spikevax) bivalent Omicron BA.1/original wild-type vaccine, as well as its mRNA (Spikevax) original wild-type vaccine.

The Pfizer/BioNTech mRNA (Comirnaty) original wild-type vaccine is also advised, and in exceptional circumstances, the Novavax Matrix-M adjuvanted wild-type vaccine (Nuvaxovid) when ‘no alternative clinically suitable UK-approved COVID-19 vaccine is available,’ the JCVI stated.

The Pfizer/BioNTech mRNA (Comirnaty) original wild-type vaccine is the only vaccine the JCVI advises for people aged 12 to 17 years, and its paediatric formulation is the only advised for those aged five to 11 years old.

In its latest advice, the JCVI stated that offering a single type of booster vaccine throughout the duration of the autumn programme is preferable for simplicity of deployment.

Professor Wei Shen Lim, chair of COVID-19 immunisation on the JCVI, said: "All of the available booster vaccines offer very good protection against severe illness from COVID-19. As more vaccines continue to be developed and approved, the JCVI will consider the benefits of including them in the UK programme."

Currently, the UK’s autumn booster campaign includes everyone aged 50 and over, high-risk people aged five to 49 years old, care home staff, frontline health and social care workers, unpaid carers and household contacts of people with weakened immune systems.

Originally the autumn booster campaign was due to include all those over the age of 65, rather than all those over the age of 50, but the programme has been expanded in response to the spread of the Omicron variant.

The JCVI noted that studies indicate the Moderna bivalent vaccine produces a ‘marginally higher’ immune response against some variants than the Moderna mRNA Original ‘wild-type’ vaccine, but that ‘the clinical relevance of these small differences is uncertain’.

Dr Mary Ramsay, head of immunisation at the UK Health Security Agency, said: "Although cases of COVID-19 are relatively low at present, we are expecting to see the virus circulating more widely during the winter months.

"The booster is being offered to those at higher risk of severe illness and by taking up the booster vaccine this autumn, you will increase your protection ahead of the winter months, when respiratory viruses are typically at their peak."

Article by
Emily Kimber

17th August 2022

From: Regulatory, Healthcare

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