British Prime Minister Boris Johnson Thursday ratified his government's pledge to start applying the third dose of COVID-19 vaccine to people aged over 50 by the end of this month, despite the fact a booster rollout has still not been signed off by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI).
Johnson also pressed for speeding of the inoculation of teenagers aged 17 and 16, who make up for the last age group to be involved in the mass campaign in the United Kingdom.
“The priorities now are the older generation going into Autumn and Winter,” Johnson told journalists on the sidelines of a visit to the Merville Barracks military base in Colchester. “We have always said there would be a third dose programme in September (for those over 50 or 60) and we are going ahead.”
“What I would also say is 16, 17-year-olds are eligible, they’ve been approved, they’re a very important group for potential transmission and I would urge all 16, 17-year-olds… to get your jab,” Johnson added. “Yes, 88% of everybody over 16 in this country has had a jab, 78% have had two jabs, it’s a huge huge success for the programme but there are still some who need that protection and I just urge everybody who hasn’t yet had one, go get that,” he went on.
Pressure is mounting on the experts to decide on boosters and vaccines for children aged 12 to 15, as currently only vulnerable youngsters can get jabbed. NHS England had been told to prepare for a booster rollout from September 6. And officials were told to plan for a rollout to all 12-15s from mid-September, giving the vaccines in schools with parental consent. But both of these rollouts will only begin if the JCVI, which is combing through complex data, gives the green light.
All 16- and 17-year-olds are being offered a vaccine but under 16s only qualify if they are in certain groups - such as the clinically vulnerable or those who live with adults who are at risk of serious illness.
Meanwhile, the Italian Prime Minister announced Thursday that his country planned to make vaccination against COVID-19 mandatory once the European Medicines Agency (EMA) and the Italian Drug Agency (AIFA) declare it no longer an emergency medicine.
Draghi made those remarks as he also unveiled plans to extend the use of a health pass. The Italian government plans to vaccinate 80% of its population by the end of the month, but so far only 69% of it has taken full treatment.