COVID-19: Delaying second doses of vaccine is the right call, say UK’s chief medical officers

UK health chiefs have defended the decision to push back second doses of coronavirus vaccines, saying the revised model is “much more preferable”.

The UK’s chief medical officers have backed the change in guidance which says booster jabs should be given up to 12 weeks after an initial dose to maximise the number of people being vaccinated.

The announcement on Wednesday prompted Pfizer to issue a warning over what it called “alternative dosing”.

A spokesperson said: “There are no data to demonstrate that protection after the first dose is sustained after 21 days.”

However, the UK’s chief medical officers say: “In terms of protecting priority groups, a model where we can vaccinate twice the number of people in the next 2-3 months is obviously much more preferable in public health terms than one where we vaccinate half the number but with only slightly greater protection.

“We have to follow public health principles and act at speed if we are to beat this pandemic which is running rampant in our communities and we believe the public will understand and thank us for this decisive action.”

But one doctor was concerned about the effect the changing advice would have on his patients.

Dr Elliot Singer, a London-based GP, told Sky News: “When you’re going through the consent and explaining the treatment [to patients] and the importance of getting a second vaccine three weeks afterwards, and then suddenly the news comes out that that’s changed -I think that’s going to cause a lot of worry and confusion amongst patients.”

He added: “We’ve also then got the issue of actually how do we go about cancelling those people over the next week?”

Tim Davies, 80, received his first dose of the Pfizer vaccine today and was due for his second in 21 days’ time.

That has now been postponed.

The retired GP said he was “very worried” about the situation.

“My heart had been pumping with enthusiasm and delight, but then it slowed down and I came out pensive.

“I wasn’t smiling behind my mask when I spoke to my wife [about being told his second dose was to be postponed]. She knew straight away something was wrong.”

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