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29th Nov 2021

Booster jabs for all over 18s announced, as government ramps up Omicron defences

Steve Hopkins

Experts said boosters should be prioritised in order of vulnerability

Covid booster jabs should be offered to all over-18s, government advisers said Monday, as plans to combat the new Omicron variant moved forward.

The advisers said adults aged 18 to 39 should be offered boosters and recommended cutting the gap between second and third doses from at least six months to at least three months.

The experts said boosters should be prioritised in order of vulnerability and recommended that severely immunosuppressed people be given access to another booster – meaning for some, a fourth dose this winter

The minimum gap between the second dose and booster jabs should also be cut to three months – down from six months – the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) said.

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It also recommended that children aged 12 to 15 be invited for a second dose three months after their first.

The rollout is expected to be staggered by age group with older people invited for boosters first.

The extension of the booster programme to an extra 13 million adults under 40 means that in total 53 million people in the UK will eventually become eligible

Over-50s and the clinically vulnerable have been eligible for boosters since September. Those aged 40 to 49 became eligible on 15 November. However, only 17 million people have so far had their booster jab.

The recommendations have been given to ministers in all parts of the UK.

The JCVI only makes recommendations, the final decision on implementing measures lies with politicians.

Nine cases of Omicron have so far been detected in the UK. Six have been detected in Scotland.

New rules on face masks and travel are due to come into force in England on Tuesday.