When people get their booster jabs this autumn they are likely be offered a different brand to their original Covid vaccine, reports say.
A ‘mix-and-match’ approach will maximise protection against new variants and grant more flexibility with supplies, according to a leaked memo seen by The Mail on Sunday.
The guidance, which is reportedly being circulated among senior health officials, says: “It is likely people will be recommended to receive a different brand of vaccine to the brand they received previously during this inaugural programme”.
The “booster” phase is set to begin in the autumn, once all adults have been offered two vaccine doses.
By the time it kicks in, two more vaccines – Valneva and Novavax – are expected to have been approved, according to the memo.
The document says the rollout of booster jabs will follow the same sequence as the original jabs – prioritising those most at risk and descending in age order.
It will “also include vaccinations for all 16 and 17-year-olds, and potentially 12 to 15-year-olds too”.
There are already said to be draft plans in place to start vaccinating 12 to 15-year-olds in the summer holidays, as cases rise among school-age children.
The memo adds the booster jabs will be administered at the same time as the annual flu vaccination. People also will be given health advice, including losing weight and quitting smoking, The Mail reports.
The Department of Health and Social Care has confirmed it is preparing for a booster programme later this year – but said final decisions have not yet been made.
Yearly booster jabs are already used to protect against flu, and it is possible Covid vaccines could be topped up in a similar way.
Anthony Harnden of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation has said “it’s going to be likely that we’re going to require an annual boost for a while”.
Speaking on The British Medical Journal’s Talk Evidence podcast, he said: “It just depends on the length of duration of protection.
“The virus mutates, [but it] probably doesn’t mutate as much or as quickly as the influenza virus, so it’s very difficult to predict whether this is going to be an annual vaccine or for how many years.”
Trials are being conducted to make sure it is safe to take different vaccines, according to The Mail.
Last month, the Health Secretary announced the start of a Covid-19 “booster” shot trial involving thousands of volunteers.
The study, led by University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust, will trial seven vaccines in the hope that a “booster” will help fight a winter surge of Covid-19.
The Health Secretary said initial results of the trial are expected in September.