Vaccine booster programme ‘could launch within weeks’

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The final details of when such an initiative will start have yet to be announced by the government, but the UK’s Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation, whose advice the Island follows, has said a booster programme could commence next month.

Deputy Chief Minister Lyndon Farnham said the government would make an announcement once it had received confirmation from the JCVI.

Dr Ivan Muscat, the Island’s deputy medical officer of health, has said the booster programme was required to protect vulnerable Islanders during the winter.

At yesterday’s Health and Social Security Panel hearing, he said: ‘All the vaccines will have a waning strength and waning immunity. We therefore do need a booster to cover, especially the vulnerable, this coming winter period.’

Senator Farnham has also urged young Islanders to get vaccinated. The latest statistics show that 25% of 16- and 17-year-olds have had their first dose since becoming eligible for the jab two weeks ago. The figures also reveal that 81% of adult Islanders are now fully vaccinated against Covid.

Senator Farnham said: ‘The JCVI has advised that a booster programme could begin in mid-September which would maximise protection in those who are most vulnerable ahead of the winter months.

‘The vaccination team have been continuing at pace in preparing for a booster programme, which will be administered at Fort Regent and will be at no cost to Islanders.’

He added that the Island was entering the final stages of its Reconnection Roadmap ‘largely due to the defence’ that the vaccine had provided, and continued to provide, the community.

Senator Farnham encouraged Islanders who had not yet had their first dose, or who needed a second, to book an appointment or attend one of the walk-in sessions at the vaccination centre.

‘This is particularly important for those 16- and 17-year-old Islanders who have recently become eligible for a first dose.

‘Getting vaccinated now will provide the best protection ahead of schools returning,’ he said.

Vaccination programme head Becky Sherrington said she wanted young Islanders who had already had a first dose ‘to encourage their friends to get vaccinated too, particularly ahead of the restrictions being lifted on 26 August and before going back to school in a couple of weeks’ time’.

This would provide good protection against Covid and long Covid, she said.

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