Covid booster vaccinations should be offered in spring and autumn this year for select groups of patients at high risk, the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has recommended.
Interim advice to the Government has recommended planning begin for a 2023 autumn booster programme for those at higher risk of severe Covid-19 because of age or clinical risk factors.
And a smaller group of people, including those of older age and those who are immunosuppressed will also be offered an extra booster dose in the spring, the JCVI advised, more details on which would be provided shortly, a statement said.
A first vaccination will no longer be available to adults under 50 years not in an at-risk group with the offer being phased out over the course of 2023, the JCVI said.
But emergency surge vaccination campaigns may still be needed should a novel variant of concern emerge with clinically significant biological differences to Omicron, the committee said.
Publishing its interim advice, the JCVI said the risk of severe Covid-19 continued to be ‘disproportionately greater’ in those from older age groups, care home residents, and those with certain underlying health conditions.
But the committee added there remains ongoing uncertainty about the evolution of the virus, durability and breadth of immunity and epidemiology of infection which ‘limits the development of a routine immunisation programme against Covid-19’.
Professor Wei Shen Lim, chair of Covid-19 immunisation at the JCVI, said: ‘The Covid-19 vaccination programme continues to reduce severe disease across the population, while helping to protect the NHS.
‘That is why we have advised planning for further booster vaccines for persons at higher risk of serious illness through an autumn booster programme later this year.
‘We will very shortly also provide final advice on a spring booster programme for those at greatest risk.’
Latest figures from this autumn/winter booster campaign show uptake of 64.5% in the over-50s and 82.4% in those 75 and over.
The 2022 autumn booster offer will come to an end on 12 February, the Department of Health and Social Care said, encouraging anyone who has not yet to come forward to do so now.