Millions to get Covid booster vaccines with scientists to approve roll-out


illions of people are set to get a Covid-19 booster jab with scientists on the brink of approving the roll-out.

He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “We are talking about boosting many, many millions of people and therefore we want to get the strategy right on this. It’s highly likely that there will be a booster programme, it’s just a question of how we frame it. This will be decided over the next few weeks.”

As thousands of schools reopen for the autumn term, Education Secretary Gavin Williamson made clear that he would like to see the JCVI also approve Covid jabs for children.

“Speaking as a parent myself, I think parents would find it incredibly reassuring to know that they had a choice as to whether their child would be vaccinated or not,” he told Sky News.

In an apparent sign of growing impatience in government over the speed of JCVI decision-making, Mr Williamson said he hoped a ruling would be made “very, very soon”.

However, Professor Harnden revealed that the discussions about vaccines for children were “very finely balanced”, given that they are unlikely to get severely ill from coronavirus and could, in very rare cases, get an acute adverse reaction to the jab.

  • The medical director of Public Health England moved to reassure parents as pupils return to classrooms after the summer holiday, saying schools are not the “drivers” or “hubs” of Covid-19 infection in communities. Dr Yvonne Doyle told BBC Breakfast: “There’ll be extra cleaning and hygiene, advice on ventilation (and) the testing is extremely important.”
  • Mr Williamson did not rule out classes and assemblies having to take place outside in the event of coronavirus outbreaks in schools. But he said: “It is certainly not something that we’d be expecting to see an awful lot of, especially in autumn and winter.”
  • Professor Calum Semple, who sits on the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies but speaking in a personal capacity, described the decision to be taken by the JCVI on jabs for children as a “really difficult judgment”.

He told BBC Breakfast: “We’ve got a really fine balancing act between a rare side effect — which is very, very rare, which is myocarditis — and the low risk (from Covid) to children themselves.

“If, however, you take into the round the risks of impact on transmission to the wider society and disruption to schools, so you take a broader view of the benefit of vaccination, that might shift the decision around vaccinating 12 to 15-year-olds, but that’s a really difficult judgment.”

Professor Harnden signalled that older people, and other at-risk groups, could be the first to be offered a booster. “The elderly received vaccines a long time ago, so they are more likely to have waned, some of the clinically extremely vulnerable, the health and social care workers,” he explained.


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