The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has advised the Government to provide an autumn Covid-19 booster programme in preparation for the winter.
The recommendations come amid the rollout of the spring booster programme, with the JCVI calling on those who are eligible to continue coming forward. They include adults aged 75 years and over, residents in a care home for older adults, and individuals aged 12 years and over who are immunosuppressed.
Who sits on the JCVI?
The JCVI advises UK health departments on immunisation.
It is chaired by Professor Andrew Pollard (University of Oxford), along with Covid-19 immunisation chairperson Professor Lim Wei Shen (Nottingham University Hospitals) and deputy chairperson Professor Anthony Harnden (University of Oxford).
The other members are Dr Kevin Brown (Public Health England), Dr Rebecca Cordery (Public Health England), Dr Maggie Wearmouth (East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust), Professor Matt Keeling (University of Warwick), Alison Lawrence (lay member), Professor Robert Read (Southampton General Hospital), Professor Anthony Scott (London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine), Professor Adam Finn (University of Bristol), Dr Fiona van der Klis (National Institute for Public Health and the Environment, Netherlands), Professor Maarten Postma (University of Groningen), Professor Simon Kroll (Imperial College London), Dr Martin Williams (University Hospitals Bristol), Professor Jeremy Brown (University College London Hospitals).
It also has four co-opted members to advise on implementation matters. They are Anne McGowan, Dr Lorna Willocks, Dr Jillian Johnston and Dr Julie Yates.
What is the recommendation for an autumn Covid-19 booster programme?
The committee recommends that those in older age groups, residents in care homes for older adults, frontline health and social care workers, and those with certain underlying health conditions receive a booster vaccine ahead of the winter period.
This will help protect against hospital admission and death during a period when individuals and the health service are at their most vulnerable, the JCVI said.
Professor Wei Shen Lim, the chairperson for Covid-19 vaccination on the JCVI, said that last year's autumn booster programme provided "excellent protection" against Covid-19.
"Last year's autumn booster vaccination programme provided excellent protection against severe Covid-19, including against the Omicron variant.
"We have provided interim advice on an autumn booster programme for 2022 so that the NHS and care homes are able to start the necessary operational planning, to enable high levels of protection for more vulnerable individuals and frontline healthcare staff over next winter.
"As we continue to review the scientific data, further updates to this advice will follow."
What has the Department of Health said about the latest recommendation?
The Department of Health said: "We welcome the interim advice from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) for an autumn Covid booster programme and will consider their final recommendations later this year," a Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said.
"We have asked the NHS in England to begin preparations to ensure they are ready to deploy Covid vaccines to those eligible."