According to reports, healthy UK residents under the age of 50 will no longer be able to get COVID-19 reminders from next month.
The Daily Mail reported that officials were urging those under 50 to get one last shot before the program was suspended.
This is the first reduction in the program, which started with mandatory lockdowns and masks.
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The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunization, or JCVI, said the transition continues to move away from an emergency pandemic response and towards a pandemic recovery.
The UK is expected to continue offering the first doses of the vaccine to anyone over the age of 16, but recalls are another story.
Once in effect, only people over 50 will be able to get a booster, although younger and immunocompromised people will be eligible.
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The fall COVID stimulus program began in September 2022 and offered reminders to people over 50, residents and employees of nursing homes, and frontline workers. The vaccine has also been offered to anyone aged 5 to 49 at clinical risk, living with an immunocompromised person or considered a caregiver.
The UK will end its Autumn COVID booster program on February 12.
Government data shows that 64.5% of people over 50 in the UK have received their injections, as have 82.4% of those aged 75 or over.
“The vaccination program continues to reduce serious illness in the population, while helping to protect the NHS,” said Professor Wei Shen Lim, chair of COVID vaccination at JCVI. «That’s why we’ve advised planning further booster shots for those at higher risk of serious illness through a fall booster program later this year.»
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The announcement of the program’s closure comes as the Food and Drug Administration, or FDA, proposed this week to treat COVID-19 vaccines the same as the annual flu shot.
The program aims to simplify future vaccination efforts — and under that strategy, most adults and children would receive a shot once a year to protect against the mutant virus, FDA officials said.