The UK COVID-19 vaccination programme is now entering its third autumn season. Vaccination helps to protect against severe illness, hospitalisations and deaths from COVID-19.
The advice for this autumn is to offer the vaccine to those at high risk of serious disease and who are therefore most likely to benefit from vaccination.
Specifically, JCVI advises the following groups be offered a COVID-19 booster vaccine this autumn:
- residents in a care home for older adults
- all adults aged 65 years and over
- persons aged 6 months to 64 years in a clinical risk group, as laid out in the Immunisation Green Book, COVID-19 chapter (Green Book)
- frontline health and social care workers
- persons aged 12 to 64 years who are household contacts (as defined in the Green Book) of people with immunosuppression
- persons aged 16 to 64 years who are carers (as defined in the Green Book) and staff working in care homes for older adults
‘The autumn booster programme will continue to focus on those at greatest risk of getting seriously ill. These persons will benefit the most from a booster vaccination,’ said Professor Wei Shen Lim, Chair of COVID-19 immunisation on the JCVI.
‘It is important that everyone who is eligible takes up a booster this autumn – helping to prevent them from hospitalisations and deaths arising from the virus over the winter months.’
To optimise protection over the winter months, JCVI advises that the autumn programme should aim to complete vaccinations by early December 2023 ahead of winter, mindful that protection is highest in the first 3 months following vaccination. This will help maximise the potential benefits of the programme.
‘The COVID-19 virus has not gone away and we expect to see it circulating more widely over the winter months with the numbers of people getting ill increasing,’ said Dr Mary Ramsay, Director of Public Health Programmes at the UK Health Security Agency.
‘The booster is being offered to those at higher risk of severe illness and by taking up the booster vaccine this autumn, you will increase your protection ahead of winter, when respiratory viruses are typically at their peak.’