The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) made an announcement on Wednesday. The key European agency said: “Based on current evidence, there is no urgent need for the administration of booster doses of vaccines to fully vaccinated individuals in the general population.” They did say, however, that those with weakened immune systems should receive an extra dose of the vaccine.
It comes as a senior Government vaccine adviser revealed it is “highly likely” that there will be a booster programme in the UK
Prof Anthony Harnden, the deputy chairman of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), said careful consideration was going into the timing of a third dose.
He said the independent body would hand its advice to the Government in the next few weeks.
Speaking on the Today programme on BBC Radio 4, Harnden said: “I think it’s highly likely that there will be a booster programme.
“It’s just a question of how we frame it. This will be decided over the next few weeks.
“I can’t definitively say that there will be, because we have not made that decision yet, but it is highly likely.”
That came following comments from Professor Paul Hunter, an expert in medicine at the University of East Anglia, calling for over-80s and immunocompromised people to get their shots “pretty soon”.
Prof Hunter said he saw no reason “whatsoever” why it had taken the JCVI so long to sign off on doses for those groups but admitted a mass booster rollout wasn’t necessary.
Professor Hunter said that over 80s “need to be boosted soon”.
He added: “As far as I’m concerned there is no debate whatsoever about that group, they should be boosted and they should be boosted pretty soon.”
Meanwhile, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has dished out heavy criticism to rich countries who are organising preparing to provide booster doses while the poorer countries are still struggling to get supplies for their first vaccination shots.
The Government has already announced that around 500,000 Brits with weakened immune systems will get a third dose of the vaccine.
These people are the first in the country to have it confirmed that they will receive a third dose of the vaccine after the pressure piled on to start rolling out booster shots for the winter.
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The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) made it clear that the recent announcement does not count as a “booster” programme.
This is because the third jabs are only being offered to people who might have not seen any successful results from their first two jabs.
People with weakened immune systems, such as those who have HIV or blood cancers, are likely to be those included in this category.
Other people eligible for the third dose will be those with solid cancers, severe autoimmune diseases and those who have had organ transplants, and those who were on drugs that suppressed their immune system at the time that they got their first two jabs.
The Government has signalled that they aim to get a third booster shot out to the over 80s age group in September, despite experts continually delaying this.
British scientists also think that extending the gap between the first and second vaccine shots will play an important role in giving long-lasting protection.
Prof Jonathan Van Tam, Deputy Chief Medical Officer for England, said: “We know there are people with severe immunosuppression for whom the first two doses of vaccine have not provided the same level protection.
“We should be doing all we reasonably can to ensure that this group is not disadvantaged and a third primary dose is one step in this direction.”