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Please note that this briefing paper is no longer being routinely updated. The most up to date information on Covid-19 booster campaigns, and eligibility, can be found on the NHS website at:

Most recent JCVI advice on the autumn Covid-19 booster campaign, 2022

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) recommended in July 2022 that those who continue to be more at risk of severe Covid-19 should be offered a Covid-19 booster vaccine in autumn 2022, specifically:

  • residents in a care home for older adults and staff working in care homes for older adults;
  • frontline health and social care workers;
  • all adults aged 50 years and over;
  • persons aged 5 to 49 years in a clinical risk group, as set out in the Green Book, chapter 14a, tables 3 and 4;
  • persons aged 5 to 49 years who are household contacts of people with immunosuppression;
  • persons aged 16 to 49 years who are carers, as set out in the Green Book, chapter 14a, table 3.

The Government accepted the JCVI’s advice and the booster programme began in England on 5 September 2022 for those in care homes, frontline health and social care workers, those who are immunosuppressed and those aged 75 years and older. The following week, the booking system was opened to those aged 65 years and older. The JCVI has advised that the autumn booster dose should be “offered at least 3 months after the previous dose”. All eligible groups have been able to book their autumn booster online, and via the telephone, since 14 October 2022. The booster campaign coincides with the annual flu immunisation programme. The JCVI states that Covid-19 and flu vaccines can be ‘co-administered’ (given at the same appointment).

The last day of the autumn booster campaign in England is 12 February 2023. The JCVI issued interim advice in January 2023 that another Covid-19 booster campaign would run in autumn 2023, aimed at “persons at higher risk of severe Covid-19 […] in preparation for winter 2023/24”.

The UK medicines regulator, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA),  approved the use of the Moderna bivalent vaccine in August 2022, and the Pfizer/BioNTech bivalent vaccine in September 2022, for adult booster doses. The bivalent vaccines target two coronavirus strains, the original strain (also known as ‘wild-type’) and the Omicron BA.1 variant. The JCVI advised in August 2022 that it would be “preferable for a single type of booster vaccine to be offered throughout the duration of the autumn programme”. NHS England has since confirmed (PDF) that the NHS will deploy a single type of vaccine and that this will be the bivalent Omicron BA.1/Original ‘wild-type’ vaccines.

Spring booster campaign, 2022

On 21 February 2022, the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) recommended a “spring dose” of Covid-19 vaccine should be offered, approximately 6 months after the last Covid-19 vaccine dose, to:

  • adults aged 75 years and over;
  • residents in a care home for older adults;
  • individuals aged 12 years and over who are immunosuppressed.

The then Health Secretary, Sajid Javid, later confirmed that all four UK nations intended to follow the JCVI’s advice. The spring booster campaign began on 21 March 2022 in England and ran until the early summer.  The ‘spring dose’ was a fourth dose (a second booster) for those in the first two groups and a fifth dose for those who are immunosuppressed. NHS England estimated that around 5 million people were eligible for a spring booster dose. The JCVI also advised that a further booster in the autumn of 2022 was likely to be advised for people who are at higher risk of severe Covid-19.

JCVI advice on Covid-19 vaccine boosters following the emergence of the Omicron variant, November 2021

In response to the emergence of ‘Omicron’ as a variant of concern, the JCVI updated its Covid-19 vaccine advice on 29 November 2021. It stated that booster eligibility should be expanded to “include all adults aged 18 years to 39 years”, with a booster offered no earlier than three months (rather than the originally advised six months) after receiving a second dose of Covid-19 vaccine. Prior to this recommendation, the booster programme was open to those aged 40 years and over. In addition, the JCVI advised that severely immunosuppressed individuals who had received three primary doses of Covid-19 vaccine should be offered a booster (a fourth dose) “with a minimum of 3 months between the third primary and booster dose”.

While the JCVI stated that “booster vaccination should now be offered in order of descending age groups” the Prime Minister announced on 12 December 2021 that, as of 13 December, the booster programme would be opened up “to every adult over 18 who has had a second dose of the vaccine at least three months ago”. He added that walk-in centres would accept those aged over 18 for a booster from 13 December 2021, while the National Booking System would allow all over 18s to book an appointment from 15 December 2021.

Following advice from the JCVI in January 2023, the 2021 booster offer (third dose) for persons aged 16 to 49 years, who are not in a clinical risk group, will end in England at the same time as the autumn 2022 Covid-19 booster campaign, on 12 February 2023.

Background to the Covid-19 vaccine roll-out

The UK began its Covid-19 vaccine roll-out in December 2020. The vaccination programme progressed in two main phases, with prioritisation primarily based on age. During Phase 1, those aged 50 years and over, frontline health and social care workers and individuals aged 16 years to 64 years with underlying health conditions (which put them at a higher risk of serious disease and mortality), were prioritised. During Phase 2, the age-based approach continued, starting with those aged 40-49 and ending with the 18-29 age group. Covid-19 vaccines were subsequently offered to all those aged 12-17 years and first and second doses were then made available to those aged 5-11 years. To date, the three Covid-19 vaccines that have been authorised by the UK medicines regulator (the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency – MHRA) and rolled-out, have required two doses to complete the primary vaccine course.

Attention subsequently turned to whether the primary Covid-19 vaccine course required any additional ‘booster dose’, namely the administration of a third dose. Following advice from the JCVI, the Government initially agreed to offer booster doses to individuals who received vaccination in Phase 1 of the Covid-19 vaccination programme (priority groups 1-9), no earlier than 6 months after completion of their primary course. The JCVI has since updated its advice on numerous occasions. Those aged 16 and over have been eligible to access a booster (third) dose after their primary course of vaccination, while campaigns have also been targeted at specific (age) groups for additional (fourth and fifth) booster doses.

Links to resources and guidance on the Covid-19 vaccine booster programme published by the UK Health Security Agency, the NHS and other health bodies are set out in Section 1 of the briefing. These sources and others have been used to address commonly asked questions about the Covid-19 booster vaccine programme. These will be updated as needed.

Details about the initial roll-out of the Covid-19 vaccination programme, including information on vaccine safety, can be found in the Commons Library briefing paper on Coronavirus: Covid-19 vaccine roll-out frequently asked questions. Parliamentary resources on Covid-19 vaccination from the House of Commons and House of Lords Libraries, and from the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology, can be accessed from the Vaccination and Covid-19 landing page.

The information in this briefing is not medical advice, or a substitute for medical advice. Individuals seeking advice on their own medical treatment should consult their GP or use the NHS 111 service (in England). For the latest official guidance on Coronavirus and the Covid-19 booster vaccination programme please consult the NHS Coronavirus (COVID-19) booster vaccine and UK Health Security Agency Green Book guidance.

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