Covid booster doses to be offered to over 40s

All over 40s should be offered a third dose of a Covid vaccine, according to the UK government’s vaccine advisors.

The move would top up protection and help limit the spread of the virus over winter.

Three doses cuts the risk of infection by more than 93%, according to the UK Health Security Agency.

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation also said 16 and 17 year olds, who were initially offered only a single dose, should now get a second.

So far, 12.6 million people have had a booster dose. They have been given to the over 50s, front-line medical staff and people with health conditions that put them at greater risk.

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“Our proactive monitoring of the safety of booster doses does not raise any new concerns.”

People aged 40-49 years old will be topped up with either Pfizer or a half dose of the Moderna jab. This should be offered six months after the second dose.

Prof Jonathan Van-Tam, the deputy chief medical officer for England, said: “If the booster programme is success and we have very high uptake, we can massively reduce worry about hospitalisation and death this Christmas and this winter for millions of people.

“It is as simple and decisive as that.”


Chart showing that while the number of first and second vaccine doses being administered is now low in England, the number of daily booster doses is rising quickly


The UK’s drug safety regulator – the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) – said the booster doses were safe and side-effects were either a sore arm or flu-like symptoms.

Dr June Raine, regulator’s chief executive, said: “We welcome today’s announcement by the JCVI, on the extension of the booster campaign to 40-49 year olds. This further strengthens our ability to ensure people are protected against COVID-19 and saves lives.

“Our proactive monitoring of the safety of booster doses does not raise any new concerns.”

The amount of protective given by the vaccines does fall after the second the dose with time.

Prof Neil Ferguson said there was “no reason” not to give boosters to younger age groups and it “could make quite a big difference to driving down transmission to low levels”.


Table with modelled outcomes for booster jabs in the UK


Young people – aged 16 and 17 – have only been offered one dose of a Covid vaccine so far. They will now get a second dose – at least 12 weeks after their first.

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