The Daily Telegraph

Third time lucky The booster issues

- Lizzie Roberts

Millions of vulnerable people will now be offered a booster jab after the Joint Committee on Vaccinatio­n and Immunisati­on (JCVI) said all groups who received a vaccine in Phase 1 of the original rollout should be offered a third dose to maximise winter protection.

Q Who will be offered a booster first?

A Similarly to the original programme, those in the first cohort of the JCVI’S priority list will be offered a booster first – those living in residentia­l care homes for older adults and staff in those homes.

Vaccinator­s will then work down the priority list, including all adults aged 50 and over, frontline health and social care staff, those aged 16 to 49 with underlying health conditions, carers and adult household contacts (aged 16 or over) of the immunosupp­ressed.

Q How fast can the boosters be rolled out?

A England’s deputy chief medical officer, Prof Jonathan Van-tam, said boosters could start within days.

“My personal view is this needs to start very quickly,” he told a Downing Street news conference.

NHS sources expect boosters will be in arms “within a week”.

Q Where will the boosters be given?

A NHS England told providers on July 1 to prepare a booster programme after interim JCVI guidance said it was likely one would be needed. Those eligible will be invited to have their jab either through their GP, at a community pharmacy or a vaccinatio­n hub.

Workforce planning has been under way for months to ensure there is capacity, as well as maintainin­g the general rollout, the annual flu jab and other healthcare demands.

NHS England is currently turning around its guidance which will go out to providers within the next few days, setting out the JCVI’S recommenda­tions and what is expected of them. Once this guidance has been issued, boosters can start.

Q What role will the pharmacies play?

A They are expected to take a more central role in the programme, with around 2,000 on board across the country ready to administer jabs as soon as supplies arrive. Andrew Lane, chair of the National Pharmacy Associatio­n, said using pharmacies will allow GPS to “focus on clearing the care backlog in the NHS”.

Q Can I still get the flu jab?

A The JCVI has deemed it safe to receive both the coronaviru­s and flu virus jab at the same time. People will be able to get both vaccines on the same day, preferably with one shot in each arm. Prof Wei Shen Lim, chairman of Covid-19 immunisati­on for the JCVI, said most people eligible for a booster will also be eligible for a flu jab. “We strongly advise them to take up this offer as well,” he told a Downing Street briefing.

It is understood that patients who are already booked in for their flu jab at a pharmacy, and who are eligible for a booster, could be offered their third jab at the same time.

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