The over-75s and care home residents will be offered a fourth Covid jab this spring, the Health Secretary has announced.
Sajid Javid said the booster will also be given to immunosuppressed people, topping up the protection for those most at risk from infection.
The NHS in England will offer people the jab from around six months after their last dose, with further details due to be released soon.
Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland are expected to make similar announcements after the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) published advice recommending another booster.
The JCVI said that a further dose is likely needed because a vaccine’s effectiveness does wane over time and Covid surges are expected in winter.
Mr Javid said: ‘Thanks to our Covid-19 vaccination rollout, we are already the freest country in Europe.
‘It has saved countless lives, reduced pressure on the NHS and is allowing us to learn to live with the virus.
‘Today I have accepted the advice from the independent Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) to offer, from spring, an additional Covid-19 booster jab to people aged 75 years and over, residents in care homes for older adults, and people aged 12 years and over who are immunosuppressed.
‘All four parts of the UK intend to follow the JCVI’s advice. We know immunity to Covid-19 begins to wane over time.
‘That’s why we’re offering a spring booster to those people at higher risk of serious Covid-19 to make sure they maintain a high level of protection. It’s important that everyone gets their top-up jabs as soon as they’re eligible.
‘The JCVI will keep under review whether the booster programme should be extended to further at-risk groups.’
According to the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA), most of the UK’s oldest adults received their last vaccine in September or October last year.
The vaccines used in the spring programme will be the Moderna or Pfizer jabs for adults aged 18 and over.
For anyone eligible aged 12 to 18, a smaller dose of Pfizer is being offered,
Professor Wei Shen Lim said: ‘Last year’s booster vaccination programme has so far provided excellent protection against severe Covid-19.
‘To maintain high levels of protection for the most vulnerable individuals in the population, an extra spring dose of vaccine is advised ahead of an expected autumn booster programme later this year.
‘The JCVI will continue its rolling review of the vaccination programme and the epidemiological situation, particularly in relation to the timing and value of doses for less vulnerable older adults and those in clinical risk groups ahead of autumn 2022.’
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