Eluned Morgan MS, Minister for Health and Social Services
The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) is an independent expert advisory committee, which advises United Kingdom health departments about immunisation, making recommendations about vaccination schedules and vaccine safety.
As part of its ongoing review of the Covid-19 vaccination programme, the JCVI has today published a statement with its latest advice on the 2023 programme.
Whilst there is high level of strong population immunity developed over the past two and a half years, the risk of severe COVID-19 continues to be disproportionately greater in those from older age groups, residents in care homes for older adults, and persons with certain underlying health conditions. There also still remains on-going uncertainty regarding virus evolution, the durability and breadth of immunity, and the epidemiology of infection
The JCVI has indicated that for a smaller group of persons (such as persons of older age and those who are immunosuppressed) an extra booster vaccine dose may be offered in spring 2023, whilst for autumn 2023 persons at higher risk of severe COVID-19 would be offered a booster vaccine dose. Emergency surge vaccine responses may also be required should a novel variant of concern emerge with clinically significant biological differences compared to the Omicron variant.
In addition, the JCVI is also recommending some changes to the universal offer programme:
- The current nobody left behind offer of the 2021 booster (third dose) of COVID-19 vaccination for persons aged 16 to 49 years who are not in a clinical risk group should close in alignment with the end of the autumn 2022 vaccination campaign.
- The current nobody left behind offer of a primary course of COVID-19 vaccination should move, over the course of 2023, towards a more targeted offer during vaccination campaigns to protect those persons at higher risk of severe COVID-19.
This advice means that from 2023 COVID-19 vaccinations will only be offered to specific people at certain times (during specific campaigns) unless prescribed by a clinician.
Further information will be made available in due course on the formal date of the closure of both these elements of the programme.
Alongside my UK counterparts, I have accepted this advice, and subject to supply, NHS Wales stands ready to start operationalising this programme in 2023.
As ever, I am extremely grateful to the NHS and everyone involved in the vaccination programme for their continued hard work.