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When will autumn Covid boosters be available in the UK? Latest update as new vaccine approved

Manchester Evening News logo Manchester Evening News 15/08/2022 Fionnula Hainey
Millions will be eligible for a vaccine this autumn © PA Millions will be eligible for a vaccine this autumn

Millions of people in the UK will receive a Covid booster jab this autumn as the NHS rolls out the next stage of its vaccination programme. All adults over 50, NHS staff and people who are clinically vulnerable are among those eligible for the coronavirus booster.

The Department of Health has announced that a new Covid-19 jab made by Moderna, which targets both the original strain of the virus and the Omicron variant, will be offered as part of the programme. On Monday, August 15, the UK became the first nation to authorise the new bivalent vaccine, described as “next generation” by experts.

Known as mRNA-1273.214, the dose is an updated version of the Moderna vaccine which is already in use for first, second and booster doses. Moderna’s chief medical officer, Dr Paul Burton, previously said that the new jab can boost a person’s antibodies to such high levels that it may only be needed annually.

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The new Moderna jab will be used alongside the original Moderna jab and the Pfizer jab in this year's autumn booster roll-out. Here's what we know about when the programme will begin, who is eligible for it and which vaccines will be used.

When will the autumn booster programme begin?

According to the Department of Health, people who are eligible for the booster will be contacted from early September. The NHS England will outline further details of how and when people will be able to get their booster ahead of the programme getting underway.

Health secretary Steve Barclay said: “We will begin to contact those eligible from early September, and I would urge people to come forward as soon as they are invited so together we can keep each other safe and protect our NHS.”

The autumn booster vaccine dose should be given at least three months after any previous dose of a Covid vaccine, according to the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI).

Who is eligible for the autumn Covid booster?

The groups eligible for an autumn booster are:

  • all adults aged 50 years and over
  • those aged 5 to 49 years in a clinical risk group, including pregnant women
  • those aged 5 to 49 years who are household contacts of people with immunosuppression
  • those aged 16 to 49 years who are carers
  • residents in a care home for older adults and staff working in care homes for older adults
  • frontline health and social care workers

All eligible groups are being encouraged to take up the booster vaccine when it is offered even if they have previously had a spring booster.

Which vaccines will be used in the autumn booster programme?

The JCVI has published its advice on which vaccines should be used in this year’s autumn booster programme and the government has confirmed that it will use the new bivalent jab in the programme.

The JCVI recommends different vaccines are used for different age groups. It has advised that the following vaccines are used during the autumn programme:

For adults aged 18 years and above

  • Moderna mRNA (Spikevax) bivalent Omicron BA.1/Original ‘wild-type’ vaccine
  • Moderna mRNA (Spikevax) Original ‘wild-type’ vaccine
  • Pfizer-BioNTech mRNA (Comirnaty) Original ‘wild-type’ vaccine
  • in exceptional circumstances, the Novavax Matrix-M adjuvanted wild-type vaccine (Nuvaxovid) may be used when no alternative clinically suitable UK-approved COVID-19 vaccine is available

For people aged 12 to 17 years

  • Pfizer-BioNTech mRNA (Comirnaty) Original ‘wild-type’ vaccine

For people aged 5 to 11 years

  • Pfizer-BioNTech mRNA (Comirnaty) Original ‘wild-type’ vaccine paediatric formulation

Professor Wei Shen Lim, Chair of COVID-19 immunisation on the JCVI, said: "All of the available booster vaccines offer very good protection against severe illness from COVID-19. As more vaccines continue to be developed and approved, the JCVI will consider the benefits of including them in the UK programme.

"It is important that everyone who is eligible takes up a booster this autumn, whichever vaccine is on offer. This will increase your protection against being severely ill from COVID-19 as we move into winter."

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