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Go-ahead expected for Covid booster jab campaign



The JCVI is poised to recommend a Covid booster campaign after a study showed a top-up Pfizer dose ‘greatly boosted’ immune responses, according to reports.

The study showed a ‘huge rise in protection’, including a ‘several-fold increase’ in antibodies, whether the patient had had the Pfizer or the AstraZeneca vaccine previously, The Times reported.

The NHS had been mobilising for a two-stage Covid booster programme to begin this week, alongside flu vaccinations, but that was delayed because the JCVI had not yet recommended boosters.

However, Professor Dame Sarah Gilbert – who was the lead scientist in the development of the Astra Zeneca Covid jab – has said that mass booster vaccines are unnecessary as Covid immunity is ‘lasting well’.

She told the Telegraph: ‘We will look at each situation; the immunocompromised and elderly will receive boosters. But I don’t think we need to boost everybody. Immunity is lasting well in the majority of people.’

Under the JCVI interim advice for Covid boosters, the first stage was to include:

  • Care home residents, the over-70s, frontline health and social care workers, the clinically extremely vulnerable and the immunosuppressed.

To be followed in the second stage by:

  • Over-50s, all those aged 16-49 in a flu or Covid ‘at-risk group’ and the adult household contacts of the immunosuppressed.

Since then, the JCVI has recommended the immunosuppressed should have third dose of the jab, with GPs expected to work with hospital consultants to identify patients for vaccination next week.

It comes as the UK medicines regulator this week approved the use of a third dose of both the Pfizer and AstraZeneca Covid vaccines ahead of an expected announcement about booster jabs.

The Times also reported that chief medical officer (CMO) for England Professor Chris Whitty is next week expected to back universal vaccination of 12-15s on the grounds that it would ‘improve their mental health, social life and education’.

The UK’s CMOs are currently reviewing universal Covid vaccination for 12-15s after the JCVI stopped short of recommending expanding the rollout to all healthy children in the age group.

A version of this story originally appeared on Nursing in Practice sister publication Pulse.