UK Confirms COVID-19 Vaccination Plans for 2023
UK Health Security Agency press office today announced that in its interim advice to the UK government on the COVID-19 vaccination program for 2023, the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has advised that plans should be made for those at higher risk of severe COVID-19 to be offered a booster vaccination during the autumn of 2023.
The JCVI also advised that an extra booster vaccine dose in the spring should also be planned for a smaller group of people, such as those who are older and those who are immunosuppressed. Advice regarding the spring 2023 COVID-19 program will be provided shortly.
Emergency surge vaccine responses may be required should a novel variant of concern emerge with clinically significant biological differences compared to the Omicron variant.
Professor Wei Shen Lim, Chair of COVID-19 vaccination on the JCVI, stated in a media release on January 25, 2023, 'The COVID-19 vaccination program continues to reduce severe disease across the population while helping to protect the NHS.'
'That is why we have advised planning for further booster vaccines for persons at higher risk of serious illness through an autumn booster program later this year.'
'We will provide final advice on a spring booster program for those at most significant risk shortly.'
The 2022 COVID-19 autumn booster vaccination campaign commenced in early September last year. The most recent coverage data (15 January 2023) of the autumn booster program in those aged 50 years and over is 64.5% and 82.4% in those aged 75 years and above. By the end of summer 2022, the 2022 spring booster program coverage was 77.3% in those aged 75 years and over.
Following high uptake rates for the initial (third) booster dose of the COVID-19 vaccine in December 2021, further uptake has been low at less than 0.1% per week since April 2022 in all eligible people under 50 years of age.
Similarly, uptake of primary course vaccination, which has been widely available since 2021, has plateaued in recent months across all age groups.
As the transition continues away from a pandemic emergency response towards pandemic recovery, the JCVI has advised that the 2021 booster offer (third dose) for persons aged 16 to 49 years who are not in a clinical risk group should close in alignment with the close of the autumn 2022 booster vaccination campaign.
In England, the closure of the autumn booster campaign and the first booster offer will be on 12 February 2023. We strongly encourage everyone currently eligible for a first booster and yet to come forward to do so before the offer closes.
Similarly, the JCVI advises that the primary course of COVID-19 vaccination should move, throughout 2023, towards a more targeted offer during vaccination campaigns to protect those at higher risk of severe COVID-19. We strongly encourage individuals who have not had a primary course to come forward for their primary course before the offer closes.
The JCVI constantly reviews all advice and will revise it according to the latest data and evidence.
In its 2023 statement, the JCVI also advises that research should be considered to inform the optimal timing of booster vaccinations to protect against severe COVID-19 for groups at different levels of clinical risk.
Note: The unedited pre-translated announcement is posted at this link.
On a separate, Independent report, the UKHSA's revised estimates of the number needed to vaccinate (NNV) to prevent one hospitalization during the Omicron era indicate that 800 persons aged 70 years and above would need to be given a booster in autumn 2022 (a fourth dose) to prevent one hospitalization from COVID-19.
The corresponding NNV for persons aged 50 to 59 years is 8,000, and for persons aged 40 to 49 years who are not in a clinical risk group is 92,500.
Updated picture on Jan. 27, 2023.