Two vaccines are often effective enough at preventing severe Covid-19, meaning that there may not be a current need for all of the general population to be given third doses, according to a report in The Lancet. Some countries have started rolling out booster vaccines to people in the population most at risk of severe infection and hospitalisation. In the UK they are soon to be offered to all over 40s, after it was found that a booster vaccine will help keep hospitalisations down.
Despite the booster possibly not yet being necessary for the entire population, the scientists highlighted that some individuals would certainly benefit from an additional dose.
Indeed, the NHS notes getting a booster helps give you longer-term protection against getting seriously ill from COVID-19.
Moreover, research has found that the efficacy of the first two doses can gradually decline after six months, hence the current booster drive for certain groups.
Some scientists have also suggested that current vaccine supplies could save more lives if used in previously unvaccinated populations.
This comes as the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) advised the government that all adults over the age of 40 should be offered a booster six months after their second dose.
This means that all people aged 40 to 49 years old who have not previously been eligible will soon be able to book an appointment for a booster.
The JCVI advice comes as the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) publishes the first data on booster vaccine effectiveness in the UK.
The analysis shows that people who take up the offer of a booster vaccine increase their protection against symptomatic COVID-19 infection to over 90 percent.
The vast majority of the UK adult population has received a COVID-19 vaccine since the programme was launched.
This includes 87.9 percent of the population who have received a first dose and 80 percent who have received two doses.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has also pleaded with Britons to get their booster jab to protect against coronavirus amid “climbing” Covid cases.
The Prime Minister emphasised this importance, saying “we need to see those 50-plus groups and the 60-plus groups” to come forward and get their booster jabs.
This is partially because this age group can “very, very easily” end up in hospital.
The Government notes that recent UK and international data have provided early signs of a slight fall in the levels of protection against severe disease from the primary doses, in those who had their initial vaccines a long time ago.
At the moment you can use the NHS service to book an appointment for a booster dose if it’s been 152 days since your second dose and you’re aged 50 and over, or are aged 16 and over with a health condition that puts you at high risk from COVID-19.
Most people will be offered a booster dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine or Moderna vaccine, though some people may be offered a booster dose of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine if they cannot have the Pfizer/BioNTech or Moderna vaccine.