The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has published its advice on which COVID-19 vaccines should be used in this year’s autumn booster programme.
Prof Deborah Dunn-Walters, Chair of the British Society for Immunology COVID-19 Taskforce and Professor of Immunology at the University of Surrey, said:
“Over the last year, researchers have been working hard to assess how we can best protect people from COVID-19 going forwards through the use of COVID-19 booster vaccines. The results from these multiple studies have been provided to the JCVI for careful analysis to decide which vaccines should be given as a booster, when this should happen and which people should receive one.
“Booster vaccines do as their name suggests – they provide a boost to your immune system to increase the levels of antibodies and T cells that you have to protect you against falling seriously ill with COVID-19. Previous research shows that individuals who are older or who have a weakened immune system are particularly at risk of becoming very ill if they contract COVID-19, but that vaccination does provide significant protection to them. Therefore, it is good to see these individuals, and the people they come into regular contact with, prioritised in this booster programme.
“In line with previous years, we expect to see levels of circulating SARS-CoV-2 increase during the winter months. Vaccination is still the safest and most effective way to protect yourself from becoming very ill with COVID-19. Once available, it is important to take up the offer of a COVID-19 booster vaccine if you are offered it.”
Prof Beate Kampmann, Professor of Paediatric Infection & Immunity and Director of the Vaccine Centre, LSHTM, said:
“Availability of a bi-valent vaccine is good news but how much of a difference it would actually make remains to be seen. The currently discussed bi-valent vaccines were developed with Omicron variant BA.1 antigens in mind, and will only deliver very partial protection against BA.4 and 5. How much difference such bi-valent vaccine can actually make remains to be seen and the bi-valent vaccines have not yet been widely tested in large heterogeneous population groups. In essence, I think it is wise not to recommend a “personalized vaccination approach” but to go with the wider entirely pragmatic public health message that boosters are an important intervention for the winter period and should be taken up across age groups, as recommended, with the most vulnerable to be first in line.”
All our previous output on this subject can be seen at this weblink:
Prof Deborah Dunn-Walters: “No conflict of interests to declare.”
Prof Beate Kampmann: “No declarations of interest.”