Major change to Covid booster roll out announced as Omicron variant fuels 30% surge in cases | The SunJuly 15, 2022
ALL over-50s will get another Covid booster in September, health chiefs have confirmed – as cases rose by nearly 800,000 last week.
The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation said over-50s, vulnerable people and health and care workers will be offered a top-up jab.
Infections across the UK have hit 3.5million after increasing for the sixth week in a row in a jump of a third.
The Office for National Statistics said one in every 19 Brits is now carrying the virus.
The JCVI updated the booster rollout from their earlier advice, expanding it to include 50 to 64-year-olds.
Professor Anthony Harnden, deputy chair of the JCVI, said: “By offering a further dose to those at higher risk of severe illness, we hope to significantly reduce the risk of hospitalisations and deaths over the winter.”
Over-50s and all schoolchildren will also be offered free flu jabs again this year as officials said the bug is “very much back this year”.
Rollout of the winter virus vaccines will start in September, in just six weeks’ time, with Brits invited in priority order with the eldest first.
Dr Mary Ramsay, head of immunisation at the UK Health Security Agency, said: “Widening the eligibility for the flu vaccine will help reduce the number of people getting seriously ill and ease pressures on the NHS, particularly during the busy winter period.”
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The latest ONS figures show there were 2.9million Covid cases in England on July 6, with 334,00 in Scotland, 183,500 in Wales and 107,600 in Northern Ireland.
All were higher than a week before, with the UK total rising by 29 per cent.
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The number of NHS hospital patients with Covid is the highest since April at 13,975 in England.
Daily admissions are also at a three-month high but have flattened off at around 1,850.
Officials are worried about flu bouncing back this winter as cases in Australia, which gets hit during the UK’s summer, are up to 10 times higher than average.
One senior health source said they were “being more precautionary” by jabbing against both Covid and flu.
Health Secretary Steve Barclay said: “Viruses spread more easily in the colder seasons with people socialising inside, so the risk of getting Covid is higher.
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“It is absolutely vital the most vulnerable groups receive a booster vaccine to strengthen their immunity.”
Prime Minister Boris Johnson added: “Vaccines were our way out of this pandemic, and now they will make sure Covid can never haunt us in the same way again.”
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