What is the UK’s Covid-19 spring booster programme and who is eligible for a vaccine?
The Government on Tuesday announced a huge new Covid-19 vaccine roll-out this spring which will benefit certain groups in the UK.
The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) said it has advised that certain people should be offered the vaccinations, with options including the Pfizer, Moderna, Sanofi/GSK jabs.
While the Department for Health has pledged to support the most vulnerable, figures show that more than a third of Londoners have still not received two jabs.
Professor Wei Shen Lim, chairman of the JCVI’s Covid-19 committee, said: “Vaccination remains the best way to protect yourself against Covid-19 and the spring booster programme provides an opportunity for those who are at highest risk of severe illness to keep their immunity topped up.
“This year’s spring programme will bridge the gap to the planned booster programme in the autumn, enabling those who are most vulnerable to be well protected throughout the summer.”
Here is what we know about the spring booster programme.
Who will be offered the jabs in the spring booster programme?
Anyone aged 75 or over, as well as those in care homes, will be offered a spring Covid-19 vaccine. Anyone aged five and over who is immunosuppressed will also be offered a jab.
Eligible individuals will be offered the vaccine around six months after their previous dose. NHS England will confirm operational details for the programme in due course.
Dr Mary Ramsay, head of immunisation at the UK Health Security Agency, said: “Covid-19 is still circulating widely, and we have recently seen increases in older people being hospitalised.
“It is important that those at highest risk of severe illness do not become complacent and I would encourage everyone who is eligible to come forward once the booster programme starts.”
Which vaccine types will be offered as part of the spring booster programme?
The JCVI has advised the following vaccines may be used in the 2023 spring programme:
Sanofi/GSK monovalent (beta variant)
Novavax monovalent (wild-type variant) — only for use when alternative products are not considered clinically suitable.
The vaccine offered will depend on a person’s age and local supply considerations. Children aged under 12 years will be offered a children’s formulation of the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine.
What is the general state of play with vaccinations?
London’s overall vaccination coverage continues to lag behind the rest of the country, with more than a third (35.2 per cent) of those eligible receiving two doses.
Under half (46.9 per cent) of eligible Londoners had received a third dose as of March 1.
In the South West of England, 82.4 per cent of those eligible have received two doses and 69.3 per cent have had a booster jab.