Sunday, January 16, 2022

Under 40s will get booster jab ‘earlier than expected’ as new variant identified

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Anna Garside, 28. receives her second coronavirus vaccination at the UK's first nightclub vaccine centre which has been set up at Birmingham's oldest and largest LGBT venue, the Nightingale Club. Picture date: Saturday August 7, 2021. PA Photo. See PA story HEALTH Coronavirus . Photo credit should read: Jacob King/PA Wire
The UK’s vaccine booster programme is likely to be extended to younger age groups imminently (Picture: PA)

Younger people should expect to be given their booster vaccine earlier than previously anticipated, a vaccine advisor has said.

Professor Anthony Harnden – the deputy chair of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation – has confirmed plans to speed up the programme in the UK.

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He said extending the eligible age range for boosters and reducing the interval between the second and third doses ‘will be a sensible strategy’.

Currently only the over-40s and those with underlying health conditions are being offered a booster six months after their second jab.

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Health secretary Sajid Javid has asked the JCVI to look at speeding up the rollout to all over-18s and is expecting a report ‘imminently.’

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Professor Harnden told Radio 4’s Broadcasting House: ‘I think there’s a very good, strong argument for raising the antibody level in the whole of the community.

‘So, accelerating the booster programme, both by extending the age range and by reducing the interval between the second dose and the booster dose, will be a sensible strategy.’

When pushed on whether people aged 18 and over would be invited to get the booster sooner, he added: ‘Those adults 18 plus will have an offer of a booster earlier than we had previously envisaged.’

The JCVI advises the Government on immunisation and has been making recommendations for how the UK should handle its vaccination programme throughout the pandemic.

The group is also currently considering whether second doses should be offered to 12 to 15-year-olds, and whether the waiting time before a booster jab could be reduced.

Mr Javid also told The Andrew Marr Show on the BBC that he has ‘asked the NHS to prepare for much greater capacity in our vaccination programme’.

The emergence of the Omicron variant – which could be more resistant to vaccines – has resulted in a number of new measures including new rules on masks and self isolation.

MORE : Everything we know about new Covid variant Omicron – from symptoms to vaccine efficacy

MORE : New Covid rules explained as first Omicron variant cases confirmed in England

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