Wed | Dec 1, 2021

UK recommends COVID-19 booster shots for over 50s

Published:Tuesday | September 14, 2021 | 9:29 AM
Chair of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) Professor Wei Shen Lim (left) Britain's Deputy Chief Medical Officer for England Jonathan Van-Tam and Chief Executive of the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) June Raine (right) attend a media briefing on the latest COVID-19 update at Downing Street, central London, Tuesday, September 14, 2021. (Justin Tallis/Pool via AP)

LONDON (AP) — The United Kingdom said Tuesday it will offer a third dose of COVID-19 vaccine to everyone over age 50 and other vulnerable people after an expert panel said the boosters were needed to protect against waning immunity this winter.

Health Secretary Sajid Javid told lawmakers that the government had accepted the recommendation of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunization and would start offering booster shots next week.

The World Health Organization has asked wealthy nations to delay booster shots until every country has vaccinated at least 40% of their populations.

“The JCVI is advising that a booster dose be offered to the more vulnerable, to maximise individual protection ahead of an unpredictable winter,″ Professor Wei Shen Lim, the panel's chair, said during a media briefing.

“Most of these people will also be eligible for the annual flu vaccine and we strongly advise them to take up this offer as well.”

The JCVI said booster shots were needed to ensure vulnerable people are protected against COVID-19 because studies have shown that the immunity conferred by vaccines weakens over time.

The panel recommended that everyone over 50, as well as health care workers, people with underlying health conditions and those who live with people who are immunosuppressed get a booster shot at least six months after they received their second dose of vaccine.

The move comes despite the WHO's appeal to delay booster doses amid global shortages of vaccine.

The agency said that COVID-19 would continue to threaten people everywhere until all countries vaccinate enough people to head off potentially dangerous new variants.

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus reiterated the call last week after an earlier appeal was widely ignored.

“I will not stay silent when companies and countries that control the global supply of vaccines think the world's poor should be satisfied with leftovers,” he said September 8.

“Because manufacturers have prioritised or been legally obliged to fulfil bilateral deals with rich countries willing to pay top dollar, low-income countries have been deprived of the tools to protect their people.”

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