Our COVID-19 vaccination programme has been an internationally recognised success. To date, 87% of people aged 12 and over have received one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, whilst 80% have had their second dose.
The difference this has made is profound. Data from the UKHSA Vaccine Surveillance report estimates that more than 127,500 deaths and 24 million infections have been prevented as a result. Many of the freedoms we’ve been able to restore over the past months have been made possible by the wall of defence we’re continuing to build through the vaccine rollout.
To build on this success, yesterday the Government announced that we are extending our vaccine programme to offer booster jabs to those aged 40 to 49 and second doses to 16- and 17-year-olds. The Government urges everyone to get their jabs as soon as possible as we continue to build a wall of defence against this virus.
We know that immunity to COVID-19 begins to wane after 6 months and new data shows that boosters give over 90% protection against symptomatic COVID-19 in adults over 50. That is why the Government is expanding our phenomenal vaccine programme on the advice of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) – offering a booster jab to 40 – 49-year-olds and offering a second vaccine dose to 16 – 17-year-olds. The JCVI will keep under review whether the booster programme should be extended all people under 40.
Although people aged 40 to 49 years are at a lower risk of serious disease and mortality than older age groups, this risk is not negligible and there are some data to indicate a waning of protection following the primary schedule in this group. Prevention of infection may also play an important role in combatting the pandemic through reducing the overall risk of COVID-19 infection across the population. A reduction in rates of infection generally would also provide indirect protection against serious COVID-19 in more vulnerable populations.
As with all groups that have been offered the vaccine, the considerations of risks from COVID-19 have been assessed against vaccination. A second dose both increases and is important for extending the duration of the protection offered by vaccines, which is vital for young people aged 16-17 who are moving towards adulthood, higher education and/or the workplace, and are at a pivotal point in their education.
You can view the Health and Social Care Secretary’s comments following the Government’s decision to accept JCVI advice on COVID-19 vaccination programme at: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/government-accepts-jcvi-advice-on-covid-19-vaccination-programme.
As we approach winter our vaccination programme is the single most important defence we have against COVID-19. Every vaccine delivered makes a difference in our work to protect the NHS and save lives. Everyone eligible should come forward for their first, second and top up jabs to protect themselves and their loves ones - reducing pressure on the NHS and helping us stop the spread of the virus. To view book or manage your COVID-19 vaccination, please visit: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/coronavirus-vaccination/book-coronavirus-vaccination/.