‘Earlier’ booster jabs for over 18s, deputy chair of JCVI says

Over-18s will receive a booster “earlier” than previously envisioned, the deputy chair of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation said.

Professor Anthony Harnden also said accelerating the booster programme by extending the eligible age range and reducing the interval between the second and booster does “will be a sensible strategy”.

Meanwhile, Health Secretary Sajid Javid said he expects to receive new advice “imminently”, within the next couple of days, from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI).

The JCVI advises the Government on immunisation and has been tasked with reviewing whether boosters should be extended to all over-18s.

The group will also consider whether second doses should be offered to 12 to 15-year-olds, and whether the waiting time before a booster jab could be reduced.

Mr Javid also told The Andrew Marr Show on the BBC that he has “asked the NHS to prepare for much greater capacity in our vaccination programme”.

The decisions on the booster programme come amid concerns over the impact of winter pressures on the NHS, as well as the identification of the new Omicron Covid-19 variant.

Professor Harnden told Radio 4’s Broadcasting House: “I think there’s a very good, strong argument for raising the antibody level in the whole of the community.

“So, accelerating the booster programme, both by extending the age range and by reducing the interval between the second dose and the booster dose, will be a sensible strategy.”

When pushed on whether people aged 18 and over would be invited to get the booster sooner, he added: “Those adults 18 plus will have an offer of a booster earlier than we had previously envisaged.”