The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has advised that people in at-risk groups should be offered another Covid-19 booster jab in the autumn to maximise protection against the virus.
The boosters would be for more vulnerable adults, alongside frontline social care and health workers, in order to maintain their protection over the winter against severe Covid-19.
The JCVI has advised that the guidance is provisional and for the purposes of planning for the NHS, care homes and the wider health community and that there is considerable uncertainty with regards to the likelihood, timing and severity of any potential future wave of Covid-19 in the UK in the year ahead.
Despite these uncertainties, the committee has recognised that winter will remain the season when the threat from Covid-19 is greatest for individuals and for health communities.
Like autumn last year, the primary objective of the 2022 autumn booster programme will be to increase population immunity and protection against severe Covid-19 disease, specifically hospitalisation and death, over the winter period.
The JCVI’s has advised that a Covid-19 vaccine should be offered to:
- residents in a care home for older adults and staff
- frontline health and social care workers
- all those 65 years of age and over
- adults aged 16 to 64 years who are in a clinical risk group
Professor Wei Shen Lim, Chair of Covid-19 vaccination on the JCVI, said: “Last year’s autumn booster vaccination programme provided excellent protection against severe COVID-19, including against the Omicron variant.
“We have provided interim advice on an autumn booster programme for 2022 so that the NHS and care homes are able to start the necessary operational planning, to enable high levels of protection for more vulnerable individuals and frontline healthcare staff over next winter.
“As we continue to review the scientific data, further updates to this advice will follow.”
Throughout the pandemic, evidence has clearly shown that Covid-19 has disproportionately affected those in older age groups, residents in care homes for older adults, and those with certain underlying health conditions, particularly those who are severely immunosuppressed.
It is important that those who are eligible for the spring booster currently being rolled out – specifically adults aged 75 years and over, residents in a care home for older adults, and individuals aged 12 years and over who are immunosuppressed – still come forward to ensure they are protected.
The JCVI will continue its ongoing review of the vaccination programme and the epidemiological situation, particularly in relation to the timing and value of doses for less vulnerable older adults and those in clinical risk groups ahead of autumn 2022.
The committee will announce its final plans for the autumn programme, including further detail on the definitions of clinical risk groups, in due course.