LONDON (Reuters) -Britain's vaccine advisers on Thursday said that an anticipated autumn COVID booster campaign would be aimed at people aged over 65, care home residents, frontline health and social care workers and all adults in a clinical risk group.
Britain is offering a spring booster to the over-75s, care home residents and immunosuppressed people, and ministers have spoken openly of plans for a further booster campaign in the autumn.
In interim advice, the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) stopped short of recommending another shot for all adults, though said the advice would be reviewed and updated.
"The JCVI’s current view is that in autumn 2022, a COVID-19 vaccine should be offered to: Residents in a care home for older adults and staff; Frontline health and social care workers; All those 65 years of age and over; Adults aged 16 to 64 years who are in a clinical risk group," the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) said in a statement.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, fiercely criticised for his handling of the early stages of the pandemic, lifted COVID restrictions in England in February, crediting Britain's quick initial vaccine rollout and the rollout of boosters with breaking the link between cases and deaths.
The booster programme helped to ensure that a wave of the highly transmissible Omicron variant and record case numbers did not overwhelm the National Health Service (NHS).
"We welcome the interim advice from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) for an Autumn Covid booster programme and will consider their final recommendations later this year," the health ministry said.
"We have asked the NHS in England to begin preparations to ensure they are ready to deploy Covid vaccines to those eligible."
(Reporting by Alistair Smout; Editing by Kate Holton)