A fourth Covid vaccine shot is not yet needed, the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation has said, as booster shots are still providing strong protection against severe disease from Omicron in older people.
Latest figures show that, for the over-65s, protection against hospitalisation remains at about 90% three months after the third jab, according to the UK Health Security Agency.
Protection against severe disease from only two doses of the vaccine drops to about 70% after three months and 50% after six months.
It means the JCVI has recommended the government continues to prioritise the third jab booster drive for all adults for now, rather than beginning to provide a fourth vaccine dose to vulnerable groups such as the over-80s or care home residents.
It marks the UK’s departure from Israel’s vaccination strategy, which is pursuing fourth shots for the over-60s and medical staff.
“The current data show the booster dose is continuing to provide high levels of protection against severe disease, even for the most vulnerable older age groups,” said Prof Wei Shen Lim, the JCVI’s chair of Covid-19 immunisation.
“For this reason, the committee has concluded there is no immediate need to introduce a second booster dose, though this will continue to be reviewed.”
He added the data is “highly encouraging” and emphasises the value of a booster jab.
“With Omicron continuing to spread widely, I encourage everyone to come forward for their booster dose, or if unvaccinated, for their first two doses, to increase their protection against serious illness.”
The data is based on a UK Health Security Agency study looking at booster doses in the over-65s, among the first to be eligible for a booster from the campaign’s launch in mid-September.
Data on booster protection from mild symptomatic infection shows it is less long-lasting, however, dropping to about 30% by about three months.
The JCVI said the main aim of the vaccination campaign is to prevent severe disease – not prevent all infections, which would require an unsustainable level of repeated vaccinations.
It comes after the UK on Friday reported 178,250 new infections, a 47% climb on the 121,371 new cases reported on Friday two weeks ago. (Reported figures tended to be lower over the holiday period.)
A further 229 Covid-related deaths were recorded on Friday, a 67% rise on the 137 deaths reported on Friday two weeks ago.
Omicron continues to put huge stress on the NHS, with the health service in England experiencing the highest number of Covid absences since the vaccine rollout, with more than 40,000 staff unable to attend work on two days in the past week. This has led to claims hospitals are “simply not safe”.
The percentage of the eligible population vaccinated with a third or booster dose is now 61%, according to government data, compared with 90.2% for at least one shot and 82.8% for two doses.
- The Corona-Coaster: entering year 3 of this ride that none of us asked to go on | Jess Harwood | Corona News
- ‘He was adamant he didn’t want it’: the pro-vax parents with vaccine-hesitant kids | Corona News
- Why has Australia reduced the Covid vaccine booster jab wait time to five months? | Corona News
[ ALL Information from theguardian.com was used in this report. Read More ]