Covid booster jabs offered a month earlier for UK care home residents

Care home residents and some vulnerable people will be able to get their Covid booster vaccine a month early, ministers have announced, in an effort to boost immunity during the winter.

Currently the wait between second and third doses is six months, but medics will be able to decide to reduce it to five for care home residents and people who are housebound who are offered their flu jab at that point, so they can receive both vaccines together.

For people who are about to receive immunosuppressive treatment that would hinder their immune system, the wait for a booster will be cut even further, to four months.

The health secretary, Sajid Javid, said the move – after an update to clinical guidance made by the UK Health Security Agency – would give medics “the necessary flexibility in the booster programme, allowing more vulnerable people to be vaccinated where it makes operational sense to do so”.

The Department of Health and Social Care stressed that vaccines give high levels of protection but that immunity reduces over time, particularly for older adults and at-risk groups, meaning it is vital people get their booster to “top up their defences and protect themselves this winter”.

Protection against symptomatic illness falls from 65% up to three months after the second dose to 45% six months after the second dose for the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine and from 90% to 65% for the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, the latest evidence from the government’s scientific advisers suggests. Protection against hospitalisation is expected to fall from 95% to 75% for Oxford/AstraZeneca and 99% to 90% for Pfizer/BioNTech.

Only some people are eligible for a booster jab. They are: adults aged over 50, those living in adult residential care homes, frontline health and social care workers, people aged over 16 with underlying health conditions, adult carers, those who are homeless, and adult household contacts of immunosuppressed individuals.


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