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Professor Adam Finn, a member of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation, also said it was important that over-75s and those with severely weakened immune systems come forward for their spring booster. He confirmed they are likely to be called again as part of a wider round of boosters in the autumn.
Eligibility for these will be decided in the summer but it is understood they could be given to all those who receive free flu jabs, including the over-50s.
Asked if the injections will become an annual fixture, Prof Finn said: “It’s hard to be absolutely sure about that but the direction of discussion at the moment is certainly a booster campaign in the autumn, directed probably at the people who we think are most at risk.
Whether that goes on year after year like the flu programme is still an open question and depends on what coronavirus does to us in the interim. But it’s a strong possibility that we may have a winter-time campaign, combined with the flu vaccine campaign, going forward.”
The Government’s plan for living with Covid drew mixed reaction from experts and health chiefs yesterday.
Many welcomed the booster plans but warned that ending free mass testing would increase the threat to vulnerable people. Prof Finn told BBC Breakfast the scientific community was concerned because “this is a tricky business, we really can’t predict the future with all that much confidence”.
He added: “We have to make a best guess, we have to base it on the evidence we’ve got and we clearly don’t want to go back to a position where large numbers of people are dying and being admitted to hospital.”
Health Secretary Sajid Javid told Sky News: “Covid is still out there. We may be done with Covid but it is certainly not done with us and we have to remain cautious and vigilant. “That is why we set out yesterday just how we will continue to do that, so vaccines remain an important part of our defences.”
A further 41,130 Covid-19 cases were reported in the UK yesterday and 205 deaths.
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