Health Secretary Sajid Javid has said he is “confident” a Covid-19 vaccine booster campaign can start from September, despite no official decision being made.
The rollout is still awaiting recommendation from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), which is still debating whether the third vaccine doses are needed.
When could the booster programme start?
NHS plans are in place for the rollout of the booster jabs from 6 September, alongside flu vaccines, but the programme is yet to officially be given the green light.
The JCVI met on Thursday (19 August) to discuss the potential for a third jab to be given to people who might “really need” it.
Committee member Professor Adam Finn said a decision on the rollout is imminent and those who are “very unlikely to be well protected by those first two doses” will need a booster.
His comments on a wider rollout were echoed by fellow government adviser, Professor Peter Openshaw, who said further evidence is needed on any benefits booster jabs might bring.
While planning is in place for a booster programme, this does not necessarily mean it will definitely go ahead as experts are keen to invest more time and research to determine if a third dose is really needed.
Despite no official go-ahead, Mr Javid told reporters on a visit to open a hospital in Carlisle on Thursday (19 August): “We are going to have a booster scheme, it will start sometime in September.
“I couldn’t tell you exactly when because before we start it, as people would expect, we need to get the final advice from our group of experts, our independent scientific and medical advisers – the JCVI.
“We’re waiting for their final opinion and, looking at everything and the timing of that, I’m confident that we can start in September when we will start with the most vulnerable cohorts and start offering that third jab.”
Who could be eligible for the booster jab?
Those who have been classed as vulnerable to Covid-19 because of their age, job or health condition will likely be invited for a booster jab, while some people may be offered one to protect others.
The proposals suggest that the programme will follow a two-stage approach, with vulnerable groups offered the vaccine first.
In Stage 1 the following groups are expected to be invited for a booster dose, and the flu vaccine, from September:
– adults aged 70 or over– those living in care homes for older adults– frontline health and social care workers– adults aged 16 years and over who are immunosuppressed– adults aged 16 years and over who are considered clinically extremely vulnerable
In Stage 2, the following groups should be offered a booster dose as soon as practicable after Stage 1, with “equal emphasis on the flu vaccine where eligible”:
– all adults aged 50 and over– all adults aged 16 to 49 years who are in an influenza or Covid-19 at-risk group– adult household contacts of immunosuppressed individuals
The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) said that there were around 15 million people who would be called forward in Stage 1, and 17 million in Stage 2.
This article originally appeared on our sister title, NationalWorld.