Fifth Covid jabs could be rolled out this autumn, the Health Secretary has suggested in the strongest hint yet that the vaccination programme will be expanded again.
Grilled this morning on a booster campaign this autumn, Sajid Javid said it was ‘possible… probably for those that are 50 and over’. But he added a ‘final’ decision was yet to be made.
Over-75s, care home residents and patients with weak immune systems are already in line to get a fourth Covid jab from today to ‘top-up’ their immunity. If they are offered another jab in the autumn, it will be their fifth.
Mr Javid also revealed ministers ‘level of concern’ over Covid cases has ‘not changed’ over the past two weeks, despite the rise in infections and hospitalisations, while being interviewed on BBC Breakfast.
He also urged people to treat Covid like any other infectious disease, and ‘behave sensibly’ if they were feeling unwell or experiencing symptoms — including socialising less and staying indoors to avoid spreading the virus. He gave the advice ahead of England ending its free testing offer from next Friday.
Last week Mr Javid also hinted that the country’s inoculation drive could be ramped up, saying there may be a ‘need to give a lot more people a boost’. But he gave no details as to which age groups could be called forward.
Five million Britons became eligible for second boosters today, with the first 600,000 expected to be invited this week.
Ministers are following advice from the panel of influential scientists the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) in deciding which groups to offer Covid vaccines to.
It has now been six months since the roll out of third shots was launched, with evidence now showing a waning in immunity among older groups who were among the first to get their third dose.
To combat this last month the JCVI recommended that the spring vaccination programme should cover over-75s, care home residents and immunocompromised over-12s.
It is expected that Covid vaccines could eventually be rolled out every year in a similar way to the flu jabs. These are already offered to over-50s for free every winter. Mailonline