Today the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has updated its advice on the COVID-19 vaccine booster programme.
To maintain this high level of protection through the coming winter, the JCVI is advising that booster vaccines be offered to those more at risk from serious disease, and who were vaccinated during Phase 1 of the vaccine programme.
- those living in residential care homes for older adults
- all adults aged 50 years or over
- frontline health and social care workers
- all those aged 16 to 49 years with underlying health conditions that put them at higher risk of severe COVID-19 and adult carers; and
- adult household contacts of immunosuppressed individuals
The JCVI advises that the booster vaccine dose is offered no earlier than 6 months after completion of the first course and in the same order as during Phase 1 in terms of priority groups.
The programme could start as early as this month for those groups who received the early vaccinations.
A precautionary approach has been taken as it is not yet known what the level of protection is after 6 months. For this reason, the JCVI considers that on balance it is preferable to maintain a high level of protection in vulnerable adults throughout winter.
Which vaccine will be offered?
The JCVI advises a preference for the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for the booster programme, regardless of which vaccine brand someone received for their primary doses.
Alternatively, a half dose of the Moderna vaccine may be offered. Where mRNA vaccines cannot be offered, for example due to allergies, the AstraZeneca vaccine may be considered for those who received it previously.
Clinical trial data indicates that co-administration of the influenza and COVID-19 vaccines is generally well tolerated with no reduction in immune response to either vaccine. Therefore, it may be that the two vaccines may be co-administered for groups who should receive both and where operationally practical.
What about those who are severely immunosuppressed and have received/or are offered a third primary dose?
This advice about boosters is separate from, and does not supersede, recent JCVI advice on a third primary dose for the severely immunosuppressed. The JCVI will review whether this group requires a further booster at a later date, following completion of their 3-dose primary course. Therefore, booster advice provided in this article does not include these individuals.
View the full press release here.
We are aware there have been a number of vaccination programmes being announced recently and it can be very confusing. Below we have outlined a very short update on the programmes that have taken place and been announced:
- Individuals with a liver condition aged 16 and over and adult household contacts of immunosuppressed (two doses)
- Individuals aged 16-17
- Children aged 12-15 on immunosuppressants and their household contacts aged 12-15, and expanded to those with chronic liver conditions (two doses)
- Third vaccine for those with severely weakened immune systems
- All 12-15 year olds (one dose only)
- Booster vaccine programme (all individuals with a liver condition aged 16 and over and household contacts of immunosuppressed).
If you have any queries please don’t hesitate to contact us and we will do our very best to support you.