Covid booster jab to be offered to more than 30 million people

Nurse prepares a vaccine

The government has given the greenlight for Covid booster jabs to be offered to more than 30 million people. - Credit: PA

Booster jabs will be offered to people over 50, as well as those in care homes and working in frontline health and social care, the government has announced.

Medical experts said the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine was safe to be given alongside the usual winter flu jab, and would be used as the booster dose for more than 30 million people.

People who are clinically extremely vulnerable and anyone aged 16 to 65 in an at-risk group group for Covid — who were in priority groups one to nine during the initial vaccine rollout — will also be eligible for a jab.

Three vaccines have been approved as safe and effective as boosters – AstraZeneca, Pfizer and Moderna – but experts have decided to opt for Pfizer as a preference after studies showed it is well tolerated and works well as a booster.

The Pfizer jab as a booster can be given to people who had two doses of AstraZeneca previously.

If necessary, Moderna may be used as an alternative, but as a half-dose booster shot after studies showed it was effective with few side-effects.

People should receive their third booster dose at least six months after they received their second dose of a Covid vaccine.

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When there is more data, experts plan to look at whether boosters should also be offered to healthy people under the age of 50.