UK Extends COVID Vaccine Booster Program

Boris Johnson, the British Prime Minister, warned of a “blizzard” of new coronavirus infections entering the United Kingdom from continental Europe on Monday, as his government expanded the vaccine booster program to include younger people in an effort to boost waning immunity levels during the winter months.

Concerns over a fresh wave of the pandemic spreading across Europe have prompted the independent committee that provides vaccination recommendations to the British government to announce that persons aged 40 to 49 will be eligible for a vaccine booster dose six months after their original shot.

Previously, the Pfizer or Moderna vaccination boosters were only available to persons aged 50 and more, as well as those working in hospitals and care homes, and younger people deemed susceptible.

Second doses of the Pfizer vaccine have also been authorized for 16 and 17-year-olds 12 weeks after their initial dosage, according to the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunization. There has been no change in the advice for children aged 12 to 15, with the United Kingdom continuing to only administer a single dose of vaccination.

The booster campaign’s expansion and the introduction of a second vaccine to older teens, it claimed, will “help extend our protection until 2022.”

Accepting the suggestions, Johnson advised people to get their booster shots so they might gain an extra layer of protection as pandemic “storm clouds” gathered over Europe, prompting further lockdowns in Austria and the Netherlands.

“A fresh wave of COVID has swept across Central Europe and is now hitting our Western European neighbors,” he stated. “Our continental friends have been obliged to respond with a variety of additional limitations, ranging from full lockdowns to lockdowns for the unvaccinated, business hours limits, and social gathering restrictions.”

Following the removal of most restrictions in the summer, the United Kingdom has had high, but rather steady, levels of coronavirus infections compared to the rest of Europe. However, in recent weeks, a number of European countries have witnessed substantial increases in infection rates, raising new fears about the UK’s future.

“We don’t know how big this new wave will be when it arrives on our beaches,” Johnson added, “but history indicates we can’t afford to be complacent.”

In the United Kingdom, there have been reports of a significant spike in cases in recent days, notably among students. In the preceding week, almost 260,000 confirmed illnesses were documented, up 6% over the previous week.

The administration has so far refused to reinstate mandatory rules such as compelling individuals to wear masks indoors or demanding vaccination passports.

Johnson said there was presently no evidence in the statistics that new limitations were needed in England under its contingency Plan B, but he wouldn’t rule out more restrictions if the burden on the National Health Service became intolerable. The number of individuals in hospitals with the virus is currently approximately 8,500, which is down from around 40,000 in January. COVID fatalities are averaging roughly 150 per day, bringing the total to almost 143,000, second only to Russia in Europe.

Immunity levels among double-jabbed persons begin to diminish a few months after the second dose of vaccination, though they are still significantly less likely to experience serious illness than those who are unvaccinated, according to a slew of new findings released in recent weeks.

“What happens is that once you have your booster, your immunity returns to 95 percent,” he explained. “So far, we’ve gotten 75 percent of everyone over 70 to get a booster, which is a great amount of people, but it’s the remaining 25% that will make all the difference in the winter, Christmas, and our future plans, because it’s that extra level of protection that we truly need.”

A new research from the United Kingdom’s Health Security Agency found that persons over 50 had a 93 percent lower probability of developing a symptomatic case of COVID-19 two weeks after receiving their booster.

Chris Whitty, the government’s senior medical advisor, stated that if instances begin to grow at the same rate as in certain European nations, greater restrictions may be required.

“They’re not now increasing in the kinds of numbers that you’re seeing in continental Europe,” he added, “but certainly if they were, we’d have to look again.”

“I believe we are in for a terrible winter,” he continued.

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