Frontline health and care workers to get COVID-19 booster alongside the flu vaccine from September

The JCVI anticipates a resurgence of traditional winter viruses on top of COVID-19 now lockdown measures are being relaxed.

Matt Bodell
1 July 2021
Vaccine inPPE

Booster vaccines will be offered in a two-stage programme alongside the annual flu vaccination programme.

Frontline health and care workers alongside millions of people most vulnerable to COVID-19 are to be offered a booster vaccination from September.

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The news follows interim advice from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) which recommends that booster vaccines could bolster the protection vaccines provide in those who are most vulnerable to serious COVID-19 ahead of the winter months.

Booster vaccines will be offered in a two-stage programme alongside the annual flu vaccination programme.

Final JCVI advice will be published before September and will take into account the latest epidemiological situation, additional scientific data from trials such as Cov-Boost, real-time surveillance of the effectiveness of the vaccines over time and emerging variants.

Flu will be an additional problem.

Deputy Chief Medical Officer for England, Professor Jonathan Van-Tam explains that the JCVI anticipate that there will be a resurgence of traditional winter viruses on top of COVID-19 now lockdown measures are being relaxed.

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“Being able to manage COVID-19 with fewer or no restrictions is now heavily dependent on the continued success of the vaccination programme. We want to be on the front foot for COVID-19 booster vaccination to keep the probability of loss of vaccine protection due to waning immunity or variants as low as possible. Especially over the coming autumn and winter.

“Fewer or no restrictions will mean that other respiratory viruses, particularly flu, will make a comeback and quite possibly be an additional problem this winter, so we will need to ensure protection against flu as well as maintaining protection against COVID-19.”

Professor Van-Tam continued; “Of course, we have to be driven by data, and there will be more data from vaccine booster studies for JCVI to look at over summer, so we should all remember that this advice is interim and might change between now and September; however JCVI has clearly set out the broad direction of travel which I agree with, and which Ministers have accepted.”

Winter is coming.

Announcing the plans, new Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid said: “The phenomenal vaccine rollout has already saved tens of thousands of lives and prevented millions of infections, helping to wrestle back control of the pandemic and ease lockdown restrictions so we can return to normal as soon as possible.

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“We welcome this interim advice, which will help us ensure we are ready in our preparations for Autumn. We look forward to receiving the Committee’s final advice in due course.

“We need to learn to live with this virus. Our first COVID-19 vaccination programme is restoring freedom in this country, and our booster programme will protect this freedom. We are working with the NHS to make sure we can rapidly deliver this programme to maintain protection for people in the winter months.”

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