On 8 August 2023, the independent Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) published advice on who should be offered a covid-19 booster vaccine in autumn 2023. The Government accepted this advice.
Covid-19 Booster Vaccine Eligibility
Those eligible are:
Residents in a care home for older adults
All adults aged 65 years and over;
Persons aged six months to 64 years in a clinical risk group;
Frontline health and social care workers;
Persons aged 12 to 64 years who are household contacts of people with immunosuppression;
Persons aged 16 to 64 years who are carers and staff working in care homes for older adults.
More detail on eligibility criteria can be found in the UK Health Security Agency’s (UKHSA) Green book.
Autumn Vaccine Campaign Timings
On 30 August, the Government announced that this year’s autumn flu and covid-19 vaccine programmes will start earlier than planned as a precautionary measure following the identification of a new covid-19 variant, which was first announced in the UK on Friday 18 August.
While this variant is not currently classified as a variant of concern, advice from UKHSA suggests that speeding up the autumn vaccine programme will deliver greater protection, supporting those at greatest risk of severe illness and reducing the potential impact on the NHS. There is no change to the wider public health advice at this time.
The annual flu vaccine will be made available to these groups at the same time wherever possible, to ensure they are protected ahead of winter.
The vaccination campaign was previously due to commence in early October 2023. Vaccinations are now set to start on 11 September, with adult care home residents and those most at risk to receive vaccines first. NHS England has announced full details of the accelerated roll-out, and those who fall into higher-risk groups are being encouraged to take up the jab as soon as they are invited.
Vaccines to be Used as Part of Autumn Booster Vaccination Campaign
The JCVI advice on which vaccines should be used as part of this autumn’s booster vaccination campaign was also published on 30 August. The Government have accepted this advice, and I am informed that all four parts of the UK intend to follow the JCVI’s advice. The JCVI has advised the following products for use in the autumn campaign:
Pfizer-BioNTech mRNA bivalent BA.4-5 or monovalent XBB (subject to licensure)
Moderna mRNA bivalent BA.4-5 or monovalent XBB (subject to licensure)
Sanofi/GSK monovalent (beta variant)
The vaccine offered will depend on a person’s age and local supply considerations. Children under 12 years of age will be offered a paediatric (5-11 years) or infant (6 months to 4 years) formulation of the Pfizer-BioNTech mRNA monovalent XBB vaccine (subject to licensure).
Those eligible for vaccination are encouraged to take up the offer of the vaccine as soon as they are called to ensure they head into winter with the best protection.
Notification of liabilities
I am now updating the House on the liabilities the Government has taken on in relation to further vaccine deployment via this statement and accompanying departmental minute laid in Parliament containing a description of the liability undertaken. The agreement to provide indemnity with deployment of further doses increases the contingent liability of the covid-19 vaccination programme.
I will update the House in a similar manner, as appropriate, as and when any future deployment decisions impact the contingent liability of the covid-19 vaccination programme.