The UK announced this week that it will be rolling out an additional Covid-19 vaccine for the elderly and clinically vulnerable populations. Adults over the age of 75, nursing home residents, and anyone who’s immunocompromised will be given an extra dose of a Covid vaccine in the spring.
Britain’s Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunization (JCVI) said the rollout is a part of a “precautionary strategy for 2022,” adding that individuals over the age of 18 will be offered Pfizer/BioNTech or the Modernas vaccine for the spring dose, while 12 to 18-year-olds will be given Pfizer/BioNTech exclusively.
“An extra booster shot will be given 6 months after an eligible individual’s most recent dose. For older people in the U.K., this will be the fourth vaccine dose they have been offered. For people with a severely weakened immune system, it will be the fifth vaccine shot they have been offered. The bulk of the population has been offered three shots, two vaccinations and one booster,” the JCVI said.
“There remains considerable uncertainty with regards to the likelihood, timing and severity of any potential future wave of Covid-19 in the U.K.”
“There may be a transition period of a few years before a stable pattern, such as a regular seasonal wave of infection, is established,” the JCVI said.
A majority of the UK’s oldest, and most vulnerable, adults received their most recent Covid vaccine in September or October. The JCVI noted that “the immunity this group gained through their booster shot may wane substantially before the fall, when we plan to roll out a wider booster program.”
Details on the fall program have not been published yet. 85% of those aged 12 and older in the eligible population of UK residents have received their two doses of a Covid-19 vaccine, and two-thirds of that group has received a booster shot.”
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson is also preparing to announce and end to all remaining Covid-19 restrictions in England, a move which many medical professionals have criticized.
Most of England’s Covid restrictions have already been lifted. The legal requirement to self-isolate after testing positive for the virus is one of the few requirements still in place.
Johnson is also planning to announce that access to free Covid tests will be scaled back, even though the nation recorded 25,696 new cases this Sunday alone. About 508 individuals per 100,000 people are currently infected with Covid-19 in England.
“Thanks to our COVID-19 vaccination rollout, we are already the freest country in Europe. It has saved countless lives, reduced pressure on the National Health Service, and is allowing us to learn to live with the virus,” U.K. Health Secretary Sajid Javid said in a statement on Monday.
Eric Mastrota is a Contributing Editor at The National Digest based in New York. A graduate of SUNY New Paltz, he reports on world news, culture, and lifestyle. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.