Those over the age of 40 will soon be able to receive a third dose of the COVID-19 vaccine in the UK, in an effort to boost protection for the public and avoid a re-imposition of restrictions this winter.
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So far, around 12.6 million people in the UK have received a third injection of COVID-19, including those over 50, frontline caregivers and people with health conditions that make them vulnerable to contracting the virus.
Experts from the JCVI, a panel that advises the government on its vaccination campaign, on Monday recommended extending this booster campaign to more than 40 years and using the Pfizer/BioNtech vaccine as a priority for injection, or a half dose of Moderna.
The injection should be done at least six months after the second dose has been given, a period considered the most relevant in terms of vaccine efficacy.
The JCVI also recommended that adolescents aged 16 to 17, who were initially offered a single injection of the COVID-19 vaccine, can receive a second dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine at least 12 weeks after the first.
Once these recommendations were expressed, Health Minister Sajid Javid announced the extension of the no-confidence campaign, stressing that the four countries of the UK (England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland) ‘have the intent to follow the advice of the JCVI’.
Mr Javid said he had asked the public health service, the NHS, to “prepare to provide a vaccine to eligible people as soon as possible”.
The announcements come as the government is renewing its calls for residents to get booster doses to avoid the chaos of winter with hospitals overwhelmed with patients infected with COVID-19 and other seasonal viruses such as the flu.
Jonathan Van Tam, England’s deputy chief medical officer, said at a news conference on Monday.
“The situation could be very hectic in the coming months,” he warned.
“We know that immunity to COVID-19 begins to wear off after six months, and new data released today shows that a third dose increases protection against symptomatic infections by more than 90%. This underscores how important it is for all eligible people to receive supportive injections as quickly as possible.” , stressed the Minister of Health.
He said the JCVI will continue to examine whether third doses of the COVID-19 vaccine should be extended to people under the age of 40.
The UK is one of the countries most missing out from the coronavirus pandemic with nearly 143,000 deaths.
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