LONDON: The British government announced on Friday that it would roll out a fourth dose of the Covid-19 vaccine as a booster for all people aged 50 and over to increase protection against coronavirus and prevent hospitalizations during the winter months.
Scientific Advisors to the Independent Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunization (JCVI) recommended that an extra dose be offered during the fall months.
The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) said it had accepted that advice and would roll out the free doses to over-50s, as well as healthcare workers and the National Health Service (NHS) workers in the coming months.
“I have accepted the independent advice of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunization to offer a fall Covid-19 booster for people aged 50 and over, residents and staff of nursing homes for the elderly, to frontline health and social care workers, unpaid carers, people aged 5-49 in clinical risk groups and household contacts of those who are immunocompromised,” the Health Secretary said. Steve Barclay.
“Viruses spread more easily in colder seasons with people socializing indoors, so the risk of contracting Covid-19 is higher. It is absolutely vital that the most vulnerable groups receive a booster shot to boost their immunity against serious illnesses over the winter to protect themselves and reduce pressure on the NHS,” he said.
The vaccination plan is also extended for the annual flu vaccine, which is usually offered free of charge to the elderly and vulnerable groups.
“The flu virus could also be highly contagious at this time of year, which is why I am also announcing today that those eligible for a free flu shot this year will include everyone over the age of 50. years and older, primary school children and secondary school students in grades 7, 8 and 9, as well as those in clinical risk groups, unpaid caregivers and household contacts of those who are immunocompromised,” said Barclay.
The JCVI had previously recommended that a fourth dose of Covid be given to those over 65.
But the independent advisory body has now revised its guidelines after examining the BA.4 and BA.5 Omicron waves of the virus.
“The committee reviewed the recent epidemiology of the BA.4 and BA.5 waves, as well as the benefits of aligning the Covid-19 program with the rollout of the influenza vaccine, concluding that expanding the supply would provide necessary protection for those at higher risk of serious illness and to keep more people out of hospital,” JCVI said.
It comes as the latest data from the Office for National Statistics showed a 29% rise in Covid-19 infections in the country over the past week.
The figure of nearly 3.5 million positive tests in the week to July 6 is the highest since mid-April, but still below the UK record of 4.9 million reported at the end of March.



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