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UK expands COVID-19 booster campaign to all adults

Headlines 14:06 30 Nov, 2021

Decision comes in response to omicron variant

UK expands COVID-19 booster campaign to all adults

The UK announced on Monday that it will expand its COVID-19 booster campaign to all adults over 18, in response to the new omicron variant.

The recommendation was made by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), which also suggested that the gap between second and third doses be halved from six months to three.

Other recommendations were that children aged 12 to 15 should be given a second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine 12 weeks after their first jab and that those who are severely immunocompromised should also be offered a further booster, which would be their fourth dose.

British Health Secretary Sajid Javid said the government had accepted the JCVI’s recommendations.

“The latest indication is that [the Omicron variant] spreads very rapidly, it may impact the effectiveness of one of our major treatments for COVID-19 …  and as the chief medical officer said this weekend there is a reasonable chance that our current vaccines may be impacted," Javid told parliament.

“In the race between the vaccines and the virus, the new variant may have given the virus extra legs,” he said. “Our strategy is to buy ourselves time and to strengthen our defences while our world leading scientists learn more about this potential threat.”

Local media reported that the newly eligible will still be prioritized by age order, as the country’s National Health Service ramps up capacity.

Speaking at a press conference earlier in the day, deputy chief medical officer Professor Jonathan Van-Tam said: "I want to be clear that this is not all doom and gloom at this stage and I do not want people to panic at this stage.

"If vaccine effectiveness is reduced as seems pretty likely to some extent, the biggest effects are likely to be in preventing infections and hopefully there will be smaller effects on preventing severe disease.

"But that is something that is there for scientists to work out in the next few weeks."​​​​​​​

Separately, the UK reported on Monday that there were 11 confirmed cases of the omicron variant in the country.