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  • Writer's pictureLove Ballymena

JCVI advises no need for fourth Covid jab at this time

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) which advises the UK Government, has this evening (Friday 7 January) said that the current COVID booster vaccination programme continues to provide the population with a high level of immunity against both Delta and Omicron variants, and that a fourth jab is not needed at this stage.

According to the JCVI statement, the latest data from the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) indicates that while protection against mild symptomatic infection appears to wane substantially by about 3 months after the booster dose (~30% vaccine effectiveness), protection against severe disease (hospitalisation) is well maintained in older adults (~90% vaccine effectiveness)

“This data underlines the importance of booster vaccination and the additional protection obtained against the Omicron variant,” said a spokesperson for JCVI.

“Given the clear importance of the booster vaccination in protection against severe disease from Omicron, JCVI has reviewed the potential health benefits of an immediate additional booster dose for the most vulnerable persons in society in response to the current Omicron wave. At this present time, JCVI advises that the priority for the COVID-19 booster programme remains increasing coverage of the first booster dose across the adult population, particularly in older adults and those in clinical risk groups.

“In addition, it is important that unvaccinated individuals, especially vulnerable adults, receive a primary course of vaccination, irrespective of whether individuals have had previous infection.”

In its review, JCVI considered that:

  • the booster programme, which started in September 2021, is still providing very good protection against severe disease, including in older adults.

  • an immediate second booster dose of vaccine in the most vulnerable (those over 80 years or in a care home for older adults) would provide only limited additional benefit against severe disease at this time.

  • an immediate second booster programme for the most vulnerable would add to the significant existing operational pressures for the rest of the COVID-19 vaccine programme and other health services.

  • the current Omicron wave is progressing very swiftly, offering limited time for additional vaccine programme measures to have a substantial impact within this wave.

  • the main aim of the vaccination programme remains prevention of severe disease; protection against mild or asymptomatic infection with existing vaccine products would require regular (perhaps as frequent as 3 monthly) booster vaccinations which is not considered a sustainable long-term strategy.

  • alternative vaccines, including variant specific vaccines, may become available during 2022, and may be better suited to providing long-term protection against the Omicron variant, or other novel variants.

JCVI will continue its rolling review of the booster programme, particularly in relation to the timing and value of any second booster doses for the most vulnerable.

Concluding the JCVI spokesperson said:

“This is an evolving situation. Additional rapid response measures may still be required if there are substantial changes in our understanding of vaccine protection against the Omicron variant, or major changes in the unfolding epidemiology of COVID-19.

“In the meantime, the latest data is reassuring, and provides confidence that the booster vaccination programme has greatly strengthened population immunity against severe illness from COVID-19, including against the Omicron variant.”


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