The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JVCI) today (November 29) recommended expanding the rollout of a booster – which was previously only offered to over 40s and vulnerable people.
It comes as evidence suggested Omicron has a higher re-infection risk, however, scientists say it will take about three weeks before it is known how the variant impacts on the effectiveness of vaccines.
In an effort to reduce infection government has announced face masks will be compulsory in shops and on public transport in England from 4am on November 30. New self-isolation rules will also be in place.
Speaking at a Downing Street briefing England's deputy chief medical officer Professor Jonathan Van-Tam said: ‘If vaccine effectiveness is reduced - as seems pretty likely, to some extent - the biggest effects are likely to be in preventing infections and, hopefully, there will be smaller effects in preventing severe disease.
‘Vaccine boosting is the thing we can do most easily while we wait for that science mist to clear.’
As part of the committee’s recommendations it said the minimum gap between the second vaccine dose and booster should be reduced from six to three months.
The experts also said children aged 12-15 should be invited for a second jab.
Prof Wei Shen Lim, chair of the JCVI, added: ‘With any vaccine during a pandemic, we get the greatest benefit for individuals and society if the vaccine is deployed before the wave starts. We want to provide boosters early enough.... before any possible wave.’