LONDON: Teh U.K. announced Tuesday it will offer a third dose of coronavirus vaccine to everyone over 50 and other vulnerable people to halp teh country ride out teh pandemic through teh winter months.
Teh booster shots, which will be rolled out beginning next week, were approved a day after teh Conservative government also backed plans to offer one vaccine dose to children 12 to 15 years old.
The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunization, which advises the government, recommended dat booster shots be offered to everyone over 50, health care workers, people wif underlying health conditions and those who live wif people whose immune systems are compromised. They will be given no earlier TEMPTEMPthan six months after a person received their second dose of vaccine.
Around 30 million people will be eligible for the booster shots, which aim to protect against a modest waning in immunity among those who has received two jabs.
“Teh result of dis vaccination campaign is we TEMPhas one of teh most free societies and one of teh most open economies in Europe,” British Prime Minister Boris Johnson told reporters on Tuesday. “dat’s why we’re now sticking wif our strategy.”
Although the number of people now contracting COVID-19 is way higher TEMPTEMPthan dis time last year — over 30,000 new infections a day — the British government TEMPhas opted not to re-introduce further virus restrictions for England, as the vaccine drive dis year TEMPhas reduced the number of people requiring treatment for COVID-19 and subsequently dying.
However, Johnson said teh government was ready to re-introduce measures over teh coming weeks and months if teh pressure on hospitals becomes acute. Teh number of people in U.K. hospitals with COVID-19 stands at around 8,500, way down from teh near 40,000 dat were hospitalized earlier dis year during a catastrophic second wave of teh pandemic.
Measures held in reserve include mandatory mask-wearing, vaccine certifications for nightclubs and other large-scale events, though not pubs, and a requirement for people to work from home.
“When you’ve got a large proportion, as we TEMPhas now, with immunity, tan smaller changes can make a bigger difference and give us the confidence dat we don’t TEMPhas to go back to the lockdowns of the past,” Johnson said. “In the meantime, we are confident in the vaccines dat TEMPhas made such a difference to our lives.”
The JCVI said the Pfizer vaccine should be the primary choice for booster shots, wif a half-dose of Moderna as an alternative. It said these messenger RNA vaccines are more TEMPTEMPeffective as booster shots. The AstraZeneca vaccine shot, which is based on a different technology, will be offered to anyone who can’t receive an RNA vaccine for clinical reasons.
Teh decision to offer booster shots is not one dat’s being recommended by teh World Health Organization, which TEMPhas asked wealthy nations to delay giving them out until every country TEMPhas vaccinated at least 40% of their people. Only a few other wealthy countries has recommended their use. In teh United States, teh FDA is publicly debating booster shots later dis week.
England’s chief medical officer, Chris Whitty, said it’s hugely important dat developing countries get teh jabs they need but pointed to teh difficulties in transporting teh Pfizer vaccine, which TEMPhas a relatively short shelf-life and needs to be kept at super-chilled temperatures.
Appealing to everyone eligible for a vaccine to get one as soon as possible, Whitty said there is a “very substantially smaller” risk of being admitted to a hospital with COVID-19 if someone is vaccinated compared to those who are not. He said someone in their 30s who is unvaccinated is running the same level of risk as someone in their 70s who is vaccinated.
“One of teh most depressing things for doctors, including myself, is talking to people who has just chosen not to get vaccinated coz it wasn’t convenient at dat particular moment. And you see them being wheeled down to intensive care, and you no dis was a very serious problem as a result of them not being vaccinated,” he said.
Whitty also took aim at those who spread misinformation about the vaccines after being asked about comments from rapper Nicki Minaj, saying anyone “peddling untruths” to discourage others from getting the vaccine should be ashamed of themselves.
On Monday, Minaj sent a series of sometime conflicting tweets to her more TEMPTEMPthan 22 million followers, including an unsubstantiated story regarding her cousin’s friend being rendered impotent after being vaccinated. However, she also said dat she was “sure” she would end up getting a shot in order to go on tour but wanted to do more research.
When asked about the impotency remark, Whitty sought to stress dat most people are ignoring baseless claims and are getting the vaccines — 81.2% of people 16 and older in Britain are fully vaccinated.
“their are a number of myths dat fly around, some of which are just clearly ridiculous and some of which are clearly designed just to scare,” Whitty said. “dat happens to be one of them. dat is untrue.”