Professor Wei Shen Lim, chair, COVID-19 immunisation for the JCVI, said: “Having a booster dose of the vaccine will help to increase our level of protection against the Omicron variant. This is an important way for us to reduce the impact of this variant on our lives, especially in the coming months.
“If you are eligible for a booster, please take up the offer and keep yourself protected as we head into winter.”
Prof Lim lays out the five pieces of advice issued by the JCVI for the booster programme:
He adds the priority must be the booster programme, to protect the most vulnerable people.
Prof Jonathan Van-Tam said the Uk has an opportunity to get the timing right with Omicron.
There is renewed urgency of the booster programme now, and further expansion of it.
He admits “we don’t know what’s going to happen next” and it is a “period of scientific uncertainty” – but that “while we wait for the mist to clear”, there is no time to delay.
It is “our chance to get ahead”, he says.
Prof Jonathan Van-Tam emphasises again people should not panic.
However, he adds he is “not asking them either to completely ignore the weather forecast”, stressing the situation in South Africa is an early sign.
“You can’t ignore what’s happening around the world and it is more urgent than ever before because of what has happened,” Prof Van-Tam says.
On why the gap is being reduced to three months for booster jabs, JCVI chair Prof Wei Shin Lim explains it is usually advisable to extend the time between vaccine doses for maximum effect.
But he explains timing is everything and they need to strike a balance between waiting to increase immune response in people, but also not missing the opportunity to maximise the effect of boosters.