Booster vaccine roll-out date still uncertain as Yorkshire GPs and care providers begin preparations

GPs and pharmacists across Yorkshire have said they are ready to support booster coronavirus vaccinations being given to the most vulnerable, but the Government is yet to announce details of a timeline for their administration.

It comes as a study published earlier this week concluded that the protection provided by two doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech and the Oxford/AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccines starts to wane within six months.

Scientists behind the Zoe Covid Study app said that the Pfizer jab was 88 per cent effective at preventing Covid-19 infection a month after the second dose but after five to six months the protection decreased to 74 per cent.

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Leeds-based GP Dr Richard Vautrey, the chair of the GP committee at the British Medical Assocation (BMA) said: “GP practices are ready and willing to get involved in the booster campaign once we know what the view of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) is. They will determine whether we need to give boosters and to which groups and then when.

The JCVI is expected to make an announcement in days on whether the UK will press ahead with an autumn booster campaign for 30 million people over the age of 50 and the clinically vulnerable.

“It’s really important that we follow the advice of the experts and once we hear that then practices will be ready and will want to give the vaccines to their patients.”

Professor Adam Finn, member of the JCVI said that while studies are showing waning immunity against mild illness some months after vaccination, the jabs are still warding off serious disease and hospital admissions.

The JCVI is expected to make an announcement in days on whether the UK will press ahead with an autumn booster campaign for 30 million people over the age of 50 and the clinically vulnerable.

The NHS in England has been preparing for such a push to commence on September 6, alongside its annual flu campaign.

But Scarborough based care home manager Mike Padgham, who chairs the Independent Care Group, said care providers have not had any indication yet on when the booster campaign will begin.

He told the Yorkshire Post: “It will be six months roughly since residents had their second jab, so time is of the essence.

“The booster will be very welcome as the rate of infection is still quite high, but obviously there’s a big logistical challenge as we’re still vaccinating people for the first time.

“It would make total sense to have the nine priority groups. I would go for the exact same logic they applied the first time.”

A government spokesperson said: “We are preparing for a booster programme to ensure those most vulnerable to COVID-19 have protection extended ahead of winter and against new variants.

“Any booster programme will be based the final advice of the independent Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation.”