Plan needed for autumn booster vaccines, govt told

Chris Hopson, the head of NHS Providers, which represents NHS hospitals and trusts in England, and Royal College of GPs chairman Martin Marshall said a plan is needed in a bid to administer jabs in the autumn, adding that it will be “really quite challenging”.

They said there were many questions that need answering including how long immunity from the original coronavirus jab lasts and whether children will be vaccinated.

Other questions included whether people would get the same vaccine as the original one they got; if tweaking the vaccines for new variants works and whether Covid vaccines will be amended every year.

“We cannot just carry on as we are, with an emergency response,” they said.

They also said linking the Covid and flu vaccine rollouts – for example, a Covid jab in one arm and a flu jab in the other – needed to be investigated but added that would make the rollout more complicated.

The pair also said there needed to be proper vaccination venues as opposed to sports stadiums or community facilities.

Mr Hopson told the BBC: “Since flu jabs start in September we need ministers and the JCVI – the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation – to really answer those questions as quickly as possible, so we’re ready to administer the jabs we need to in the autumn.”

“We need to recognise that what comes next is going to be really quite challenging.”

Mr Hopson and Mr Marshall said a sustainable approach to vaccination is needed, which would allow the NHS to carry on vaccinating while also doing its other work.

The first results from the trial are expected in September and will assist the JCVI’s decision on the booster programme.

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