Millions more people in the UK could be offered Covid booster jabs as advisers consider extending them to all adults under emergency measures.
A decision from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) on both expanding the programme and cutting the gap before a third dose could come as early as Monday (29 November), in an attempt to limit the spread of the Omicron variant.
The first two Omicron cases detected in the UK infections were identified in Nottingham and Essex, with a third Omicron case found in the UK on Sunday (28 November) in a person with travel links to southern Africa who visited Westminster before leaving the country. It was thought the individual visited the wider borough and not Parliament.
Under emergency measures announced over the weekend, close contacts of positive Omicron cases have been ordered to isolate for 10 days even if they have been vaccinated against Covid.
The UK will also convene an urgent meeting of G7 health ministers on Monday to discuss the Omicron variant first detected in South Africa, amid concerns it could spread rapidly and partially evade existing vaccines.
‘A sensible strategy’
JCVI deputy chairman Professor Anthony Harnden said extending the age range for Covid boosters and reducing the gap between second and third doses was “a sensible strategy”.
He told BBC Radio 4’s Broadcasting House that adults aged 18 to 39 should expect third jabs to be offered to them “earlier than we had previously envisaged”.
The group is also currently considering whether second doses should be offered to 12- to 15-year-olds.
Teachers and pupils in Year 7 and above are also now being “strongly advised” to wear masks in communal areas outside classrooms in England, with masks also to become compulsory again on public transport and in shops from Tuesday (30 November), when isolation rules will return for international arrivals until they receive a negative PCR test.
Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi recommended that staff, visitors and pupils in Year 7 and above should wear masks in communal areas in schools, colleges and universities such as corridors, canteens and halls in England from Monday.