Covid-19 booster jabs could be offered to the UK’s most vulnerable next week.
NHS leaders have plans in place to offer a third jab to at least 30 million over-50s and clinically vulnerable people but are yet to get a green light from government advisers.
A decision will be made by experts on the Joint Committee on Vaccination (JCVI) and Immunisation, with Monday touted as a potential start date for the programme.
The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: ‘We are still awaiting the final advice from JCVI on boosters.
‘It is still very much our intention to roll out the booster programme during September.’
If Monday is confirmed, it would be two weeks before the US begins its own booster programme on September 20.
The UK’s two-stage rollout will see 15 million called forwards first, including over-70s, health and care workers, older care home residents, the clinically extremely vulnerable, and people who are immunocompromised.
The second stage could extend to a further 17 million people including over-50s, adults over the age of 16 who usually are offered a free NHS flu jab, those aged 16-49 in a Covid at-risk group, and people who are in regular contact with someone who is immunocompromised.
Booster jabs aim to give people extra protection against the coronavirus and ensure no further lockdown measures are needed.
Professor Paul Hunter from the University of East Anglia urged officials to urgently press ahead with delivering a third jab to over-80s and certain groups of clinically vulnerable people.
But he said a wider booster campaign may not be needed as vaccines are still effective at warding off serious illness to Covid.
He said that the UK will learn to live with around 45,000 infections a day ‘forever’ and Covid ‘the disease’ will be consigned to history in around three years’ time.
Professor Hunter said: ‘The last big coronavirus pandemic lasted three years; that was in 1890, with the Russian flu.
‘The virus that caused the Russian flu is still with us, and it’s still not that different probably from the virus that circulated 130 years ago, but we don’t see it causing the disease.’
The PM’s spokesman also said it was still the plan to introduce vaccine passports for nightclubs from the end of September.
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