JCVI publishes advice on COVID-19 booster

May 20, 2022

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has provided interim advice to the Government regarding coronavirus (COVID-19) booster doses this autumn.

The boosters would be for more vulnerable adults, alongside frontline social care and health workers, in order to maintain their protection over the winter against severe COVID-19.

JCVI said the advice should be considered as interim and for the purposes of operational planning for the autumn for the NHS, care homes and the wider health community.

The Committee recognises that there is considerable uncertainty with regards to the likelihood, timing and severity of any potential future wave of COVID-19 in the UK in the year ahead.

Following the objective in autumn 2021, the primary objective of the 2022 autumn booster programme will be to increase population immunity and protection against severe COVID-19 disease, specifically hospitalisation and death, over the winter period.

The JCVI’s current view is that in autumn 2022, a COVID-19 vaccine should be offered to:

  • Residents in a care home for older adults and staff.
  • Frontline health and social care workers.
  • All those 65 years of age and over.
  • Adults aged 16 to 64 years who are in a clinical risk group.

Professor Wei Shen Lim, Chair of COVID-19 vaccination on the JCVI, said, ‘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.’

However, despite the outlined plans on who will receive the booster, Carers UK has criticised the lack of inclusion of unpaid carers.

Commenting on the new interim advice from the JCVI, Helen Walker, Chief Executive of Carers UK said, ‘Yet again we are raising the fact that millions of unpaid carers looking after disabled, older or ill relatives and friends are being left out of announcements about the vaccination programme even though they do the same job as frontline health and care staff but care unpaid. The vaccination programme, when it included unpaid carers, recognised the hugely important role they provide which cannot easily be replaced should they become ill by overstretched health and care services. The first vaccination and booster programmes also understood the fact that vaccinating carers reduced the risk to the person being cared for.

Helen Walker added, ‘By not recognising carers, we are not only de-valuing their role, but we are also potentially building up unnecessary risk across health and care services, as well as to vulnerable individuals.  The pandemic does not feel like it is over for many unpaid carers who are still worried about the risk to the person they care for.

‘We sincerely hope that the final iteration of the guidance about boosters from the JCVI will include unpaid carers as they did last Autumn 2021, making them a priority, recognising their valuable role.’

The JCVI will continue its on-going review of the vaccination programme and the epidemiological situation, particularly in relation to the timing and value of doses for less vulnerable older adults and those in clinical risk groups ahead of autumn 2022.

The committee will announce its final plans for the autumn programme, including further detail on the definitions of clinical risk groups, in due course.

Visit the UK Government website for the latest COVID-19 advice.

In other news, Alzheimer’s Research UK has said the Government must increase funding for dementia research if its bold approach to tackling dementia is to be successful.

 


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