Last reviewed 16 November 2021

Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid has accepted independent advice to extend the Covid-19 booster vaccine programme to people aged 40 and over, and offer a second dose to people aged 16 to 17.

The advice came from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) to extend the vaccination programme, and all four parts of the UK intend to follow this advice.

The JCVI advises that all adults aged 40 to 49 should be offered a booster vaccination with an mRNA Covid-19 vaccine, six months after their second dose, irrespective of the vaccines given for the first and second doses.

It said booster vaccination should preferably be undertaken with either the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, or a half dose of Moderna vaccine, as previously advised.

JCVI’s advice regarding young people aged 16 to 17 years who are not in an at-risk group is that they should be offered a second dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine.

The second vaccine dose should be given 12 weeks or more following the first vaccine dose. For persons who have had proven SARS-CoV-2 infection and a first dose of vaccine, the second vaccine dose should be given 12 weeks or more following the first vaccine dose, or 12 weeks following SARS-CoV-2 infection, whichever is later.

Sajid Javid has asked the NHS to prepare to offer those eligible a vaccine as soon as possible.

He said immunity to Covid-19 begins to wane after six months. New data shows a third dose boosts protection against symptomatic infection to more than 90%, highlighting how important it is that everyone eligible gets their top-up jabs as soon as possible.

The JCVI will keep under review whether the booster programme should be extended to all people under the age of 40.

Meanwhile, NHS England said new data confirm that more than one million 12- to 15-year-olds in England have been vaccinated against Covid-19, as the NHS Covid-19 vaccination programme continues to visit hundreds of schools every week.

So far, more than 3500 schools have hosted clinics, while 95% of all schools have either already been visited or have a visit planned in the coming weeks. More than 800 schools will be visited by NHS teams next week offering young people the chance to get vaccinated ahead of winter.