The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has advised the Government to provide an autumn Covid-19 booster programme in preparation for winter.
The committee recommends that those in older age groups, residents in care homes for older adults, frontline health and social care workers, and those with certain underlying health conditions receive a booster vaccine ahead of the winter period.
This will help protect against hospital admission and death during a period when individuals and the health service are at their most vulnerable, the JCVI said.
Professor Wei Shen Lim, chair of Covid-19 vaccination on the JCVI, said that last year’s autumn booster programme provided “excellent protection” against Covid-19.
“Last year’s autumn booster vaccination programme provided excellent protection against severe Covid-19, including against the Omicron variant.
“We have provided interim advice on an autumn booster programme for 2022 so that the NHS and care homes are able to start the necessary operational planning, to enable high levels of protection for more vulnerable individuals and frontline healthcare staff over next winter.
“As we continue to review the scientific data, further updates to this advice will follow.”
The Department of Health welcomed the recommendations, adding that they have asked NHS England to begin preparations for next winter.
“We welcome the interim advice from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) for an autumn Covid booster programme and will consider their final recommendations later this year,” a Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said.
“We have asked the NHS in England to begin preparations to ensure they are ready to deploy Covid vaccines to those eligible.”
The recommendations come amid the rollout of the spring booster programme, with the JCVI calling on those who are eligible to continue coming forward. They include adults aged 75 years and over, residents in a care home for older adults, and individuals aged 12 years and over who are immunosuppressed.