Eluned Morgan, Minister for Health and Social Services
Today I would like to update members on two announcements from the Joint Committee for Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI).
Firstly, following discussion and consideration of the evidence, the JCVI has recommended that a second dose should be offered to young people aged 16–17 year olds, who are not in an ‘at-risk’ group.
The JCVI looked at the key benefits and risks of offering a second dose to 16-17 year olds and found that a second dose offered more durable protection against COVID-19 and further reduced the risk of infection and serious illness, hospitalisation and intensive care unit admission. These benefits were balanced against data showing the rare incidence of adverse events following vaccination in young people.
The JCVI recommended that the second vaccine dose should be given 12 weeks or more following their first dose. For those young people who have had a COVID-19 infection at any time after having their first dose, they should be given the second vaccine dose 12 weeks or more following the COVID-19 infection.
As always, they advise that individuals should receive sufficient information on the potential risks and benefits of vaccination to allow them to make a valid decision about whether and when to accept the second dose based their own personal circumstances. We will ensure there is a range of information sources available for young people to make an informed choice.
Turning to the booster, the JCVI has considered if the roll-out should be extended to include further cohorts who are under 50 and not in an ‘at-risk’ group. Based on the current available evidence, the Committee has recommended that a COVID-19 booster should be offered to those aged 40-49 years old, at 6 months or more following their second dose.
They will make a further decision on whether to offer a COVID-19 booster dose to those aged 18-39 at a later date, pending further evidence on vaccine waning in this group. As most younger adults will have received their second dose in late summer or early autumn, they will still have a high level of protection.
I would like to thank the JCVI for their considerations and advice and for taking care to form a balanced view. Our intention, as it has been from the start of the pandemic, is to follow the clinical and scientific evidence and therefore we accept the JCVI’s advice. We will work with NHS Wales to take this advice forward and will keep members updated.
Tomorrow I will publish the latest version of our fortnightly COVID-19 vaccination programme update.