All over-50s to get a third Covid jab in autumn to stop third wave and tackle threat of new variants

A THIRD jab is to be offered to over 50's this autumn in an attempt to tackle the new threat of variants this winter.

The third shot will be given in conjunction with the annual flu jab and will either be a new vaccine designed to fight variants or another dose of an existing vaccine. 

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A senior government minister told The Times: “We will have a lot to say about the booster programme soon.

“It’s looking really positive so far.

“We think that the level of protection in the population to any variant will be so high that by Christmas, Covid-19 should have just faded away into the background like any other illness in circulation.

“So much that we don’t think there will be any need to give a booster shot to young people because transmission will have got so low”.

With the current vaccines successfully guarding Brits against the Kent variant, the protection they offer to other variants is much weaker.

It is also believed that it will be necessary to give the third jab to those who have underlying health conditions or those who are at risk.

In March it was announced that over-70s will be given a Covid booster jab from September under new government plans.

Vaccines chief Nadhim Zahawi said some people will be given three vaccination doses within the first 10 months of the jabs being in use.

Those in the top four priority groups for the original rollout – over 70s and frontline NHS and social care workers – will be the first to get the booster jabs, The Telegraph reported.

Mr Zahawi also told the paper that ministers were expecting up to eight vaccines to be available by the autumn, including one that could protect against three different Covid variants in a single jab.

Asked when the booster jabs would begin, Mr Zahawi said: "The most likely date will be September.

"Jonathan Van-Tam [the deputy chief medical officer] thinks that if we are going to see a requirement for a booster jab to protect the most vulnerable, [it] would be around September.”  

Meanwhile, 60 million extra Pfizer vaccines have been secured got the UK.

The extra 60 million Pfizer doses will add to the UK’s growing armoury of vaccines – with deals now in place for 517 million shots of eight different types.  

Addressing the nation at a Downing Street press conference on April 28, Matt Hancock said: "The vaccine is helping us to bring back our freedom and we must protect that programme.

"So we are working on our plans for booster shots too. To keep us safe and free here, while we get this disease under control across the whole world, we have been working on a programme of booster shots for over a year now.

"I'm delighted to tell you we've been able to secure an extra 60 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine."

Speaking alongside him, deputy chief medical officer Professor Jonathan Van-Tam said meetings between fully vaccinated people are "incredibly safe".

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