The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has declared that the time between receiving the second dose of the vaccine and the booster jab should be cut from six months to only three months, allowing those aged between 18 to 39 years-old to receive one much earlier than expected. The JCVI came to this decision as research has suggested that higher antibody levels are better prepared against the Omicron variant. In addition, the JCVI has approved the second dose of the Pfizer vaccine for children aged 12 to 15 years-old. The Times has more.
The move, which will prove a huge logistical challenge for the NHS, comes after early evidence suggested that higher antibody levels may offer better protection against the variant.
The JCVI is now advising that all adults aged 18 to 39 years-old should be offered a booster dose, in order of descending age groups. Those aged 40 years-old and over are already eligible.
In further advice, young people aged 12 to 15 years-old should be offered a second dose of the Pfizer vaccine, no sooner than 12 weeks after their first dose.
The JCVI also said that severely immunosuppressed people should be offered a booster dose no sooner than three months after completing their primary course of three doses.
Professor Wei Shen Lim, Chairman of the JCVI said: “Having a booster dose of the vaccine will help to increase our level of protection against the Omicron variant.
“This is an important way for us to reduce the impact of this variant on our lives, especially in the coming months.
“If you are eligible for a booster, please take up the offer and keep yourself protected as we head into winter.”
The JCVI said that both the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines can be given as a booster for adults, with equal preference given to both.
Laws requiring facemasks in shops and public transport, along with new quarantine rules for all travellers into Britain, will come into effect at 4am tomorrow. Ministers said that this was a “proportionate” response to the emergence of a variant that scientists believe may be the most dangerous yet.
Conservative backbenchers are pressing for an early vote on the rules after Sajid Javid, the Health Secretary, suggested that Parliament may not get a chance to approve the changes until after they are reviewed in three weeks. Ministers have said that the introduction of measures such as working from home and vaccine passports, which are strongly opposed by many Tory MPs, do not require a vote.
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