The newly appointed Newly-appointed Health Secretary, Sajid Javid, has given the NHS the green light to start planning a vaccine booster programme. It is thought that vaccine immunity wanes over time. A third jab ahead of the winter will hopefully boost immunity among the elderly and vulnerable. So who can book the third jab and when?
Third Covid jabs are due to be rolled out from September.
Current plans only include the elderly, the clinically vulnerable and frontline health and social care workers in this booster programme.
Those over 70 alongside those deemed clinically vulnerable will be the first Brits to become eligible for this booster vaccine from September.
A second stage in the booster programme would offer a third vaccine to all those under-50 and anyone entitled to a free flu jab.
The JCVI believe that vaccine protection lasts at least six months for most people but, this immunity is likely to fall over time, hence the need for a booster jab for those particularly at risk from the virus.
Although it is thought vaccines protect against serious illness for at least six months there is a lack of data to confirm this, promoting the JCVI to encourage a booster programme to be rolled out.
A larger flu season than usual is expect this year, which will mean extra protection against Covid is likely to be needed as well.
This is because immunity to respiratory illnesses such as flu will likely be lower this year, as last year virtually no one caught it due to the periods of isolation and social distancing in the UK.
A booster jab will help maintain protection against Covid and new variants which have emerged for those most at risk before winter arrives.
Experts are advising the more than 30 million of the most vulnerable will need a third dose, including all adults aged 50 and over as well as anyone who normally qualifies for a flu jab.
Professor Jonathan Van-Tam, deputy chief medical officer for England, said: “We want to be on the front foot for Covid-19 booster vaccination to keep the probability of loss of vaccine protection, due to waning immunity or variants, as low as possible – especially over the coming autumn and winter.”
He said respiratory viruses such as the flu, “will make a comeback” and be more problematic than usual this winter.
He added: ”We will need to ensure protection against flu, as well as maintaining protection against Covid-19.”
The programme may administer flu jabs alongside the booster Covid jabs as experts are concerned about a dangerous flu season this winter.