Booster jabs approved for over-50s and frontline workers

Booster vaccines will be offered to over 50s and frontline workers in a bid to fight off a third wave of coronavirus this winter.

The Joint Committee of Vaccinations and Immunisations (JCVI) made the recommendation to the government after studying for months how third jabs should be rolled out.

Around 30 million people will be eligible for the extra shot, which will top up their immunity and enhance protection against the virus.

The programme will follow a similar pattern to the original vaccine rollout, with people from the most vulnerable groups first in line.

The JCVI said the Pfizer jab is their preference for a booster, or alternatively a half dose of Moderna.

Those in the eligible cohort will be called forward for their third jab six months after their second dose, which is when experts think immunity may start to wane.

The government has repeatedly said the programme is ready to start this month, but it has been waiting for the JCVI to draw conclusions on who should get a booster.

Vaccines are expected to be at the heart of the Covid winter plan that Boris Johnson will unveil to the nation later today.

The prime minister will hold a press conference at 3.30pm outlining how the government intends to avoid another national lockdown.

The Medicines and Health Regulatory Authority (MHRA) has already said the Pfizer vaccine can be used as a booster.

Ministers believe this will help ensure the NHS is not overwhelmed by new cases as it moves into autumn and winter.

It comes after the chief medical officers (CMOs) of the four home nations said children aged 12 to 15 should be offered one dose of the Pfizer jab.

The JCVI refused to recommend vaccinating children, saying the benefits only marginally outweigh the risks. But they asked the CMOs to look at the wider impacts such as to their education.

Professor Chris Whitty, England’s CMO, said the jabs would reduce school disruption, though it was no ‘silver bullet’.

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