All over-50s in line for booster Covid vaccine
Vaccine passports are set to be introduced for nightclubs
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The Government wants to get the programme rolling by the end of the month once scientists have given their approval. Boris Johnson vowed older adults will start receiving covid booster jabs within weeks programme rolling by the end of the month once scientists have given their approval. Mr Johnson said: “The priorities now are the older generation going into autumn and winter, and we have always said there would be a booster programme in September – in this month – and we are going ahead with that.”
Vaccine regulators have recommended third doses for people with severely weakened immune systems, who are likely to have been unable to mount an immune response from their first two jabs.
But the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) is yet to recommend an adult booster jab plan.
It is looking at the optimum time to deliver third doses and a decision is expected in the next couple of weeks.
The government is working on the basis of its interim recommendation, which was to go ahead with refreshing immunity for all over 50s.
JCVI deputy chairman Professor Anthony Harnden said an adult booster programme is “highly likely” to be backed soon but there is “a lot of very complicated modelling and data analysis” going on around the decision.
He said the JCVI is awaiting results of the Cov-Boost study, which is looking at different vaccines “to see what immune responses they give to people that have had say Pfizer, Moderna or AstraZeneca, can we mix it, can we match it?”
He added: “What we don’t want to do is boost people and then find we have a new variant and we can’t boost them again because we’ve boosted them too soon and those people might not have needed the booster in the first place.”
Prof Harnden said “strong” advice will be given to the Government and that it will be up to ministers to make the decision.
Former health secretary Jeremy Hunt urged Britain to follow Israel’s lead by pushing ahead with another round of protective shots for all adults as soon as possible.
The “clear lesson” for the UK seems to be get on with booster jabs, not just for the clinically vulnerable but for everyone”, he added.
Meanwhile, Gavin Williamson piled pressure on the JCVI to approve jabs for teenagers to stop the new school year being hit by covid chaos.
The Education Secretary said parents want to be able to make the choice to have their children vaccinated and insisted the NHS is ready to act.
But the independent JCVI has said it will make the recommendation on 12-15-year-olds without outside influence.
Mr Williamson said ministers are waiting with “bated breath” for the result.
He said: “I think parents would find it deeply reassuring to have a choice of whether their children should have a vaccine or not.
“We obviously wait for the decision of JCVI. Probably a lot of us are very keen to hear that and very much hope that we’re in a position of being able to roll out vaccinations for those who are under the age of 16.
“I would certainly be hoping that it is a decision that will be made very, very soon.”
He said he could not give a timeline for when the decision is expected because the JCVI is a “completely independent committee”, adding: “They’re not there to take instructions from the Government.”
“They will reach a decision, I’m told and I understand, very, very soon,” he said.
Pupils in England and Wales have been returning to the classroom after the summer holidays.
Mr Williamson said he will “move heaven and earth” to avoid shutting schools again.
But he did not rule out a rise in coronavirus infections caused by the return of face-to-face lessons.
The Education Secretary said: “I will move heaven and earth to make sure that we aren’t in a position of having to close schools.”
Prof Harnden said the body will act in children’s best interests.
He said: “There’s many, many arguments for and against giving vaccines to 12 to 15-year-olds, and we’re deliberating on what we think as a committee is best for children.
“And that is the key thing: whatever we decide, we will do it in the children’s best interests no matter what other people outside the committee think.”
The Prime Minister said the UK needs to “go faster” with vaccinating 16 and 17-year-olds and urged them to take up the offer of a jab.
He said: “What I would also say is 16 to 17-year-olds are eligible, they have been approved, they are a very important group for potential transmission.
“I would urge all 16 to 17-year-olds, everybody who knows 16 to 17-year-olds – the numbers are coming up very fast now, it is very encouraging to see more and more 16 to 17-year-olds taking the jab – but we need to go faster with those.”
He added: “There are still some who need that protection and I would just urge everybody who hasn’t yet had a jab to go and get one.”
The Covid-19 vaccination rollout in England is estimated to have directly averted more than 143,600 hospital admissions, according to new figures from Public Health England.
Previous estimates had put the number at more than 82,100.
Estimates for the number of deaths in England directly averted by the vaccine rollout are unchanged at between 102,500 and 109,500.
Latest figures showed another 178 people with covid have died and 38,154 more lab-confirmed Covid-19 cases have been recorded.
Government data up to September 1 shows that of the 91,155,368 Covid jabs given in the UK, 48,131,996 were first doses, a rise of 44,088 on the previous day.
Some 43,023,372 were second doses, an increase of 113,385.
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