Six-monthly Covid booster shots for the elderly are set to continue this year, it has been announced.
After an extensive booster campaign in 2021, recent vaccination programs have focused on shots for the elderly and most vulnerable.
A reminder campaign for the over 75s, immunosuppressed and care home residents last spring was followed by an autumn campaign for shots for the over 50s and clinically vulnerable people in the middle of the fears of a flu and a “double epidemic” of Covid.
On Wednesday, the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunization (JCVI) advised the government to start planning a similar Covid booster campaign in the spring and fall.
The current fall booster rollout is set to end on February 12, with hints of how and when the new spring campaign will take place in the coming weeks.
The government is also preparing to launch emergency vaccinations should a new variant of sufficient concern emerge.
Reduce serious illnesses
Professor Wei Shen Lim, Chairman of Covid Vaccination at JCVI, said: “The Covid vaccination program continues to reduce serious disease in the population while helping to protect the NHS.
“That’s why we’ve advised planning further booster shots for those at higher risk of serious illness through a fall booster program later this year. We will also be providing final guidance on a spring booster program for those most at risk very soon.
The US Food and Drug Administration announced this week that it is considering moving to an annual Covid shots program similar to the flu vaccine.
The proposals would eliminate the need for a two-dose primary treatment before a specific omicron booster and see people receive the available booster in a given year with the aim of simplifying the process.
There is wide debate over the future of Covid vaccines, with calls for a flu-like approach, with some insisting children don’t need the vaccine and others advocating a more tailored program targeting more vulnerable.
Alongside the conclusion of the current autumn booster scheme, the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) is also ending the persistent supply of Covid booster shots for healthy people.
The government said this was due to low uptake and a desire to move towards a “pandemic recovery” response.
UKHSA ends evergreen supply
Healthy people between the ages of 16 and 49 can currently receive three Covid injections – two primary doses and a booster. However, the UKHSA is ending its evergreen offer, which has been in place since the start of the Covid vaccine rollout.
The third doses were launched in December 2021 but will end on February 12, the UKHSA announced. The fall recall campaign for the over 50s will also end on this day.
The Telegraph understands that the government is also preparing to reduce the open supply of the first two doses over the next few months. The move will mean healthy unvaccinated under-50s will soon be unable to get a Covid vaccine unless recommended by a medical professional.
The open door policy of healthy and young Covid boosters is coming to an end as, after initial widespread adoption, there has been virtually no recent adoption. Since April 2022, less than 0.1% of eligible under-50s have received the third dose.
Nearly 13.7 million people aged 16 to 49 received three doses, while 19.8 and 21.3 million people received their second and first doses, respectively.
There are 29.6 million people aged 16 to 49, according to government data, with just 46% of eligible under-50s receiving three doses.
. The stings reminder Covid for the people elderly will sue this year