The rollout of a fourth dose of the Covid-19 vaccine is being “kept under review”, the Health Secretary has said.
Sajid Javid said ministers would continue to follow advice and guidance from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) after figures showed a rise in coronavirus infections in the four UK nations.
During a visit to Birmingham Children’s Hospital on Friday, Mr Javid was questioned on whether he intended to bring forward the fourth Covid-19 booster shot for those who are fully vaccinated.
He said: “When it comes to vaccinations and any future vaccinations, we listen carefully to what our expert advisers have to say in the JCVI.
“They have said recently… that certainly for groups of people, the over-75s, immunosuppressed, those in residential care homes, they will receive a second booster shot… a fourth dose, and that will begin in the coming weeks.
“We are preparing for that, and that will be recommended for those that have had at least a six-month gap between that dose and their previous one.”
Pushed further on whether they would be brought forward, he added: “We keep it under review, but the right thing to do is to listen to the expert advice… I’m very confident with our approach.”
Last month Mr Javid said people in specific groups will receive a fourth dose in the coming weeks to help those at the highest risk of serious illness maintain a high level of protection against the virus.
Health services across the UK will offer people the jab from around six months after their last dose.
Latest figures meanwhile have shown that for the first time since the end of January, all nations have seen a simultaneous week-on-week increase in infections.
Figures published by the ONS infection survey said that across the UK as a whole, 2.6 million people were estimated to have coronavirus last week, up from 2.4 million.
The number stood at 4.3 million at the start of the year.
Mr Javid said the Government was “continuing to monitor the situation very carefully” in response to a rise in Covid-19 infections among the elderly and in children’s hospitals.
“Obviously we monitor the situation regularly, we keep it under review, but at this stage things are very steady as we learn to live with Covid,” he said.
“It does underline the importance of the defences we have built. Getting vaccinated, particularly if you haven’t been vaccinated already, is very important.
“Whilst it’s great to see, when it comes to the boosters, eight out of 10 adults have had their booster shots, those two out of 10 that have not yet come forward – it’s still a very good time to come forward.”
Published: by Radio NewsHub