All over 50s are set to be offered another booster jab of the vaccine by Christmas as part of the government’s plans to tackle the virus
A national rollout of a Covid-19 booster jab is expected to be announced later as part of Boris Johnson’s ambitious winter plans to tackle the virus.
The prime minister unveils the blueprint for “living with the virus” through the winter in a press conference at 4pm today.
Nadhim Zahawi, the vaccines minister, told Nick Ferrari we have “plenty of the vaccine” which will allow us to deliver the programme successfully.
The jabs will start with the over 70s and the most vulnerable before expanding to everyone over the age of 50.
One Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine booster jab will be administered at least six months after the second dose.
Ministers believe that it will help ensure that the NHS is not overwhelmed by new cases of the coronavirus as it moves into the autumn and winter.
However, some scientists believe the priority now should be to get the jab to those countries that have received only scant quantities of the Covid vaccine.
This comes after children aged 12-15 should be offered a COVID vaccine, the UK’s chief medical officers (CMOs) have decided. The move means around three million children aged 12-15 could be eligible for the coronavirus vaccine, which is expected to be administered through schools.
Earlier, Downing Street had confirmed that ministers received the final advice on the issue of a booster jab from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI).
UK Health Secretary Sajid Javid will be setting out the details when he unveils the Government’s winter Covid plan for within England in a Commons statement on Tuesday.
Boris Johnson has been scheduled to then lead a Downing Street press conference, although it is unclear whether or not he will still do so following the death of his mother on Monday, Charlotte Johnson Wahl.
The Prime Minister remains determined to avoid another lockdown, with Downing Street insists it will only be considered a “last resort”.
Instead, government ministers will focus on coronavirus vaccines as the “first line of defence” supported by testing and public health advice, as well as a new variant surveillance system.
Officials argue deaths and hospital admissions have remained relatively stable over the past month as evidence suggests the vaccines have been highly effective in preventing serious illness.
Ahead of the announcement, Mr Johnson said: “The pandemic is far from over, but thanks to our phenomenal vaccine programme, new treatments and testing we are able to live with the virus without significant restrictions on our freedoms.
“I will set out a clear plan for the autumn and winter, when the virus has a natural advantage, to protect the gains we have made.”
It is thought that ministers will retain the options of a return to wearing face masks within public places and restoring work-from-home advice if cases of the virus take off again.
However, other measures have already been shelved, such as requiring vaccine passports for people attending nightclubs or other crowded venues.
It is expected the Government will announce it is repealing a swathe of powers that were taken through the Coronavirus Act, some of which are no longer considered necessary by many.
This comes after services may be cut unless NHS England receives an extra £10bn in funding next year, groups representing the service have warned. The NHS Confederation, as well as NHS Providers have said that the money was needed to cover pandemic-related costs.
They include the measures to close down certain sectors of the economy, apply Covid restrictions to events and gatherings and the powers to detain people who are infected.
Some measures will be retained, including sick pay from day one for people who are self-isolating, powers to direct schools in the country to remain open if they close against Government guidance, and helping the NHS attain the emergency resources it needs.
It will still be a legal requirement for people to self-isolate if they test positive for the coronavirus.
However, in their advice the chief medical officers stressed the impact of missing school due to Covid restrictions on children’s education and mental wellbeing.
In a Commons statement, the Vaccines Minister Nadhim Zahawi said parental consent would be sought before the vaccine was administered.
In the “rare event” that a parent declined but the child wanted the jab anyway, there would be a procedure to enable them to receive it if they were deemed “competent”.