Another season, another vaccine. The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has advised the government to provide an autumn Covid-19 booster programme.
The government has confirmed the autumn programme will be rolled out ahead of the winter months, when Covid-19 infections typically increase.
Here’s what we know about the autumn jabs so far.
Who will be eligible for autumn vaccines?
Those in ‘older age groups’, residents in care homes for older adults, frontline health and social care workers, and those with certain underlying health conditions receive a booster vaccine ahead of the winter period.
‘Older age groups’ is most likely to mean over 75s, like the spring vaccine rollout, although this detail is to be confirmed.
Why are autumn vaccines needed?
We know that the protection offered by vaccines wanes over time and although you can still catch Covid after a vaccine, receiving a jab reduces the chance of severe symptoms and hospitalisation. This is especially important for those in vulnerable groups.
Professor Wei Shen Lim, chair of Covid-19 vaccination on the JCVI, said that last year’s autumn booster programme provided “excellent protection” against Covid-19.
“Last year’s autumn booster vaccination programme provided excellent protection against severe Covid-19, including against the Omicron variant.
“We have provided interim advice on an autumn booster programme for 2022 so that the NHS and care homes are able to start the necessary operational planning, to enable high levels of protection for more vulnerable individuals and frontline healthcare staff over next winter.
“As we continue to review the scientific data, further updates to this advice will follow.”
What happens next?
The Department of Health welcomed the recommendations, adding that they have asked NHS England to begin preparations for next winter.
“We welcome the interim advice from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) for an autumn Covid booster programme and will consider their final recommendations later this year,” a Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said.
“We have asked the NHS in England to begin preparations to ensure they are ready to deploy Covid vaccines to those eligible.”
The exact start date of the autumn rollout will be announced closer to the time. It’s expected that those eligible will be able to book online, as with previous vaccine appointments.