Covid Latest: Watchdog Recommends Rolling Out Boosters To 18-Year-Olds And Over

Deputy chief medical officer Jonathan Van-Tam said: "The booster programme has never been more vital than at this point in time."
The JCVI has made an announcement on the booster vaccine programme
The JCVI has made an announcement on the booster vaccine programme
Leon Neal via Getty Images

The government’s independent advisory committee has recommended extending the booster vaccine programme to everyone aged 18 and over after a new variant of concern was named on Saturday.

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has announced that a third vaccine jab should be available to all adults following the discovery of the omicron variant.

The booster jab is currently available only to those aged 40 and over, frontline health or social workers and vulnerable individuals.

Making 18-39 year olds eligible for booster jabs means 12.8 million additional people will get the third dose. More than 17.5 million people have already received their booster jabs.

JCVI said these boosters should be made up of either a Pfizer vaccine or a half dose of the Moderna jab.

The advised gap between the second jab and the third dose – otherwise known as the booster – should now be shortened to just three months, according to the JCVI.

At the moment, it is possible to book your booster jab but it must be at least six months after the second vaccination.

Severely immunosuppressed people aged 16 and over should be able to get a fourth dose this winter too, the advisers suggested.

The watchdog calls for children aged between 12 and 15 to get a second dose three months after their first too.

The JCVI said the severity of the disease with the omicron variant and its transmissibility remains unclear, but that boosters should be prioritised in order of vulnerability.

What does this mean?

The government is yet to confirm it has accepted this advice, but the prime minister Boris Johnson made it clear he was waiting for the scientists’ recommendations before making any decisions during an emergency Covid press conference on Saturday.

Why is this happening now?

The JCVI’s decision comes after nine cases of Omicron were identified in the UK and more cases are expected to be reported in coming days.

The new variant is believed to be more transmissible than previous strains of the virus, although the danger it poses to infected individuals and the efficacy of the vaccines against it remains unclear.

The government has already announced “the temporary and precautionary” measures on Saturday in a bid to curb new infection spikes early.

The current new rules, which will come in on Tuesday, will see masks becoming mandatory in retail spaces and public transport in England, while pupils from Year 7 and up – along with school staff and visitors, should cover their faces in communal areas.

Travellers arriving into the UK from Tuesday have to take a PCR test and self-isolate until they receive a negative result.


What's Hot