Last reviewed 30 November 2021

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has urgently reviewed vaccine response measures following the changing risk posed by the emergence of the Omicron variant.

After the review, the JCVI issued new advice on Covid-19 booster vaccinations for those aged 18 to 39 and on second doses for ages 12 to 15. The intention is to accelerate the deployment of Covid-19 vaccines and raise levels of protection across the population.

The JCVI has already advised that those aged over 40 years and those at higher risk from Covid-19 should be offered a booster, and now those aged 18 to 39 will also be eligible for a booster when the NHS calls them forward.

Priority will be given to the vaccination of older adults and those in a Covid-19 at-risk group, and will be offered in order of descending age groups.

The booster will also now be given no sooner than three months after the primary course.

Both the Moderna (50 microgram) and Pfizer-BioNTech (30 microgram) vaccines have been shown to substantially increase antibody levels when offered as a booster dose and will be used with equal preference in the Covid-19 booster programme.

In addition, a second dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine for young people aged 12 to 15 years is advised no sooner than 12 weeks after the first dose.

The JCVI also recommended that severely immunosuppressed people should be offered a fourth dose of the vaccine as a booster. They are currently receiving three jabs.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced: “We don’t yet exactly know how effective our vaccines will be against Omicron, but we have good reasons for believing they will provide at least some measure of protection. And if you are boosted your response is likely to be stronger. So it’s more vital than ever that people get their jabs, and we get those boosters into arms as fast as possible.”

Former British Medical Association (BMA) GP Committee Chair Dr Richard Vautrey said on Twitter that GPs should be urgently freed up to focus on speeding up the booster jab campaign, and focus on the patients who need them most and step up delivery of the Covid-19 vaccine, to quickly protect as many as possible from Omicron.

JCVI Advice on the UK Vaccine Response to the Omicron Variant is here.