Over 18s to receive Covid booster jabs ‘earlier’ than planned, JCVI says

Professor Anthony Harnden calls decision ‘sensible strategy’

Emily Atkinson
Sunday 28 November 2021 15:52

Related video: England ‘nowhere near’ introducing tougher Covid restrictions, Sajid Javid says

Over-18s will receive their booster jabs “earlier” than originally planned, the deputy chair of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has said.

Professor Anthony Harnden described the decision to accelerate the booster programme as a “sensible strategy”.

It comes after the health secretary, Sajid Javid, said he expects to receive new advice on boosters “imminently”, within the next couple of days, from the JCVI.

The JCVI is also set to conduct a review on whether second doses should be offered to 12 to 15-year-olds, and whether the waiting time before a booster jab could be reduced.

Professor Harnden told Radio 4’s Broadcasting House: “I think there’s a very good, strong argument for raising the antibody level in the whole of the community.

“So, accelerating the booster programme, both by extending the age range and by reducing the interval between the second dose and the booster dose, will be a sensible strategy.”

When pushed on whether people aged 18 and over would be invited to get the booster sooner, he added: “Those adults 18 plus will have an offer of a booster earlier than we had previously envisaged.”

Mr Javid also told The Andrew Marr Show on the BBC that he has “asked the NHS to prepare for much greater capacity in our vaccination programme”.

It follows news that air passengers from South Africa were not tested on arrival on Friday, despite fears they could be carrying the omicron variant.

They travelled on from airports in normal ways – including on public transport – and were only then asked to take Covid tests and to go into isolation if they tested positive, the health secretary said.

It means the UK does not know how many arrivals from South Africa were infected – after 10 per cent of people on one flight into the Netherlands tested positive.

Quizzed on TheAndrew Marr Show, Mr Javid admitted there was no testing but insisted: “It’s fair to say that, as the UK, we could not have acted more swiftly.”

Asked how the passengers “got home from the airport”, he acknowledged: “They would have they would have got home in the normal way.”

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