COVID-19 booster jab to be offered to over-40s ‘as soon as possible’
The Department of Health and Social Care (DH) has accepted advice from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) that people aged over 40 should receive a third ‘booster’ dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.
All four UK nations are set to follow the advice, the health secretary Sajid Javid said in a statement this morning (November 15).
“I have asked the NHS to prepare to offer those eligible a vaccine as soon as possible,” Mr Javid added.
He continued: “The JCVI will keep under review whether the booster programme should be extended to all people under the age of 40 and I look forward to receiving their advice in due course.”
The JCVI also suggests that people aged 16 to 17 years should be offered a second dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine “12 weeks or more” after their first dose.
NHSE&I director for primary care strategy and NHS contracts Ed Waller revealed at the Pharmacy Show in Birmingham last month that pharmacy-led vaccination sites had administered more than 12 million COVID-19 vaccines since the beginning of the pharmacy-commissioned service in January.
As of October 13, 1,160 pharmacies were signed up to offer COVID-19 vaccines, but Mr Waller said last month that he expects the number of pharmacies participating in the COVID-19 vaccination programme to go up.
Plan to offer jabs to over 40s from next week
NHSE&I wrote in a letter to vaccination sites, including community pharmacy-led sites, that they should plan to deliver booster vaccinations to those aged over 40 from November 22.*
"Community pharmacy-led sites will be able to vaccinate this cohort under the current local enhanced service specification, patient group direction (PGD) and protocol from November 22," according to the letter.
However, pharmacies will have to wait until the PGD and national protocol have been updated before being able to start administering a second dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine to 16 and 17-year olds, NHSE&I added.
Pre-booking booster jabs
People eligible for a COVID-19 booster jab still need to wait six months after getting their second vaccine. However, they can now pre-book their booster jab five months after their last injection, following an update on the national booking service, the DH said.
Earlier this year, Boots told C+D that 55 of its branches are offering COVID-19 booster vaccinations, while 72 Asda pharmacies are participating in the third phase of the vaccination programme.
Meanwhile, Well Pharmacy has also confirmed the locations of its 60 branches where patients can receive their COVID-19 boosters and Lloydspharmacy has told C+D that 12 of its branches are involved in phase 3 of the programme.
NHSE&I also advised in September that community pharmacies offering booster jabs can “advise” patients of other pharmacy services when they come to get their third vaccine.
*This story was updated on November 16 to reflect the advice that was shared by NHSE&I after publication