Last reviewed 6 July 2021

According to interim advice issued by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), residents living in care homes for older people, those aged 70 plus, care workers and the clinically extremely vulnerable (CEV) will be offered a third dose of a Covid-19 booster vaccine as well as the annual flu vaccine from September 2021.

Final JCVI advice will be published before September taking into account the latest data on emerging variants. The JCVI stressed that its final advice on booster vaccination “may change substantially”.

The JCVI’s interim advice is that a third booster jab is offered in two stages to ensure that protection from Covid-19 is maintained ahead of the winter months and against new variants.

Public Health England (PHE) announced that, as part of Stage One, individuals offered a third dose of a Covid-19 booster vaccine and the annual influenza vaccine from September 2021 will be:

  • those living in residential care homes for older adults

  • adults aged 70 and over

  • adults aged over 16 considered CEV

  • adults aged over 16 who are immunosuppressed

  • frontline health and social care workers, including GPs and social care workers.

In Stage Two, those offered a third Covid-19 booster vaccine after Stage One, will be adults aged over 50, adults aged 16 to 49 years who are in a flu or Covid-19 at-risk group and adult household contacts of immunosuppressed individuals.

Vaccines designed specifically to target variants of concern “will not be available in time” for the autumn booster programme, according to the JCVI, but it will consider the use of variant vaccines “in due course”.

Other vaccines ordered by the UK Government but not yet authorised for use by the regulator “may become available for use in a booster programme” and will be reviewed by the JCVI following regulatory approval.

The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) said the Government was “working closely with the NHS to ensure that if a booster programme happens it can be deployed rapidly from September”.

NHS England guidance has said GP practices should deliver a maximum of 75% of Covid booster vaccines. Commissioners have been asked to plan for the programme, with a “minimum” of 40% of jabs to be delivered by GP-led sites.

Local systems have been told to plan to co-administer flu and Covid-19 vaccines in a single appointment by “pooling” GP practice flu stock, while GPs are expected to carry out health checks during the appointments, it added.

The Government has confirmed it is on track to offer a first dose to all adults by 19 July, two weeks earlier than planned. The JCVI advised: “As most younger adults will only receive their second Covid-19 vaccine dose in late summer, the benefits of booster vaccination in this group will be considered at a later time when more information is available”. 

NHS England’s guidance, here, said the programme should take place between 6 September and 17 December 2021 but will remain flexible based on “several clinical trials over the course of the summer”.