Healthy British residents under 50 will no longer be able to get COVID-19 boosters beginning next month, according to reports.
The Daily Mail reported that officials are urging those under 50 to get one last shot before the program is laid to rest.
This is the program’s first scaling back, which started out with lockdowns and mandatory masks.
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The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunization, or JCVI, said the transition continues to move away from a pandemic emergency response and toward pandemic recovery.
The U.K. is expected to continue offering the first vaccine doses to anyone over the age of 16, but boosters are a different story.
Once in effect, only people over the age of 50 will be able to get a booster, although people who are younger and immunosuppressed will qualify.
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The Autumn COVID boost program began in September 2022, and offered boosters to people over 50, residents and employees at nursing homes, and frontline workers. The shot was also offered to anyone from five to 49 who are a clinical risk, live with an immunosuppressed individual or considered caretakers.
The U.K. will end its Autumn COVID booster program on Feb. 12.
Government data show that 64.5% of people over 50 in the U.K. have received their shots, as have 82.4% of those who are age 75 or older.
“The vaccination programme continues to reduce severe disease across the population, while helping to protect the NHS,” Professor Wei Shen Lim, chairman of COVID vaccination on the JCVI said. “That is why we have advised planning for further booster vaccines for persons at higher risk of serious illness through an autumn booster programme later this year.”
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The announcement of the program’s close comes as the Food and Drug Administration, or FDA, proposed this week treating COVID-19 vaccines the same way the annual flu shot is treated.
The program aims to simplify future vaccination efforts – and under this strategy, most adults and children would receive a once-a-year shot to protect against the mutating virus, FDA officials said.