Britain has begun planning a COVID-19 vaccine booster campaign to begin later this year after its top vaccine advisers said it may be necessary to give the third vaccinations to the elderly and the most vulnerable from September.
The government said that no final decision had been made on whether a booster vaccine campaign was needed, but officials advised that preparations should begin on a precautionary basis.
The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunization (JCVI) has advised that there should be a plan to introduce booster vaccines for COVID-19 from September, starting with people aged 70, residents of nursing homes and those who are immunosuppressed or at risk.
Britain gave 85 per cent of adults a first injection of Covid-19 virus, and more than 60 per cent received two doses.
The success of the vaccine launch saw Prime Minister Boris Johnson pledge to lift lockdown restrictions on July 19, even as cases of the highly contagious delta variant rose.
“We need to learn to live with this virus. Our number one COVID-19 vaccination program is to restore freedom in this country, and our enhanced program will protect that freedom,” Health Minister Sajid Javid said.
The data suggest that current vaccines provide protection for at least six months, with further studies on the length of immunity and efficacy of booster injections expected in the coming months.
“We will continue to review emerging scientific data over the next few months, including data regarding the duration of immunity from current vaccines,” said Wei Shen Lim, COVID-19 chief at JCVI.
“Our final advice on booster vaccination could change dramatically.”
The JCVI also said that those given boosters should also get the flu shots, adding that people over 50 and those at high risk of contracting the flu would be next to the highest priority groups.
JCVI said the benefits of the booster injection for young adults, many of whom are still getting their first and second shots, will be looked at at a later date.