C-19: JCVI issues updated advice on booster vaccination

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has updated its advice on the COVID-19 vaccine booster programme.

To maintain the current high level of protection through the coming winter, the JCVI is advising that booster vaccines are offered to those more at risk from serious disease, and who were vaccinated during Phase 1 of the vaccine programme (priority groups 1 to 9).

This includes:

  • those living in residential care homes for older adults;
  • all adults aged 50 years or over;
  • frontline health and social care workers;
  • all those aged 16 to 49 years with underlying health conditions that put them at higher risk of severe COVID-19, and adult carers; and
  • adult household contacts of immunosuppressed individuals.

The JCVI advises that the booster vaccine dose is offered no earlier than six months after completion of the primary vaccine course, in the same order as during Phase 1.

People vaccinated early during Phase 1 will have received their second dose approximately six months ago. Therefore, it would be appropriate for the booster vaccine programme to begin in September 2021, as soon as operationally practical.

NHS England and NHS Improvement will shortly be communicating with those pharmacies that have been selected to take part in the booster programme to provide further information on the next steps for commencing this part of the overall COVID-19 vaccination programme.

The JCVI advises a preference for the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for the booster programme, regardless of which vaccine brand someone received for their primary doses. This follows data from the COV-BOOST trial that indicates the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is well tolerated as a third dose and provides a strong booster response.

Alternatively, a half dose of the Moderna vaccine may be offered. Where mRNA vaccines cannot be offered, for example due to allergies, the AstraZeneca vaccine may be considered for those who received it previously.

This advice is separate from, and does not supersede, recent JCVI advice on a third primary dose for the severely immunosuppressed. The JCVI will review whether this group requires a further booster at a later date, following completion of their three-dose primary course.

Yesterday, the Government announced that young people aged 12 to 15 in England will be offered one dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, following advice from the four UK Chief Medical Officers; this will be offered via a school-based programme.

Read more about the JCVI’s updated advice on COVID-19 booster vaccination

Read the Department of Health and Social Care’s and Public Health England’s Guidance on protecting people who are clinically extremely vulnerable from COVID-19


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