Deployment of a fourth Covid hit is under review as Health Secretary Sajid Javid provided an update as cases show signs of rising across the UK
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Health Secretary Sajid Javid has said the rollout of a fourth dose of the Covid vaccine is ‘on hold’ amid rising cases in the UK.
Javid said ministers would continue to follow the advice of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunization (JCVI), after figures showed rising infection rates in the four home countries.
He spoke during a visit to Birmingham Children’s Hospital today when asked if he intended to offer a fourth booster shot.
He said: “In terms of vaccinations and any future vaccinations, we are listening carefully to what our expert advisors have to say at JCVI.
“They said recently… that certainly for groups of people, those over 75, immunocompromised, those in EHPAD, they will receive a second booster… a fourth dose, and that will start in the next few weeks.
“We are preparing for this, and this will be recommended for those who have had at least a six month gap between this dose and the previous one.”
When pushed further, he added: “We’re keeping it under review, but the right thing to do is listen to expert advice…I’m very confident in our approach.”
Last February, Mr Javid said the most vulnerable and at-risk groups would receive a fourth dose in the coming weeks.
This was to ensure that they maintained a high enough level of protection against the deadly virus.
Those who are eligible will be offered the vaccine approximately six months after their last dose.
The latest figures showed that, for the first time since late January, all four home countries saw week-on-week spikes in infections.
Figures released by the ONS Infections Survey show that, across the UK, an estimated 2.6 million people had coronavirus in the past week.
This number stood at 4.3 million at the start of the year, but this is an increase from 2.4 million.
Mr Javid said the government “continued to monitor the situation very closely” in response to a rise in Covid-19 infections among the elderly and in children’s hospitals.
“Obviously we are monitoring the situation regularly, we are keeping it under watch, but at this point things are very stable as we learn to live with Covid,” he said.
“It underlines the importance of the defenses we’ve built. Getting vaccinated, especially if you haven’t already, is very important.
“While it’s great to see that when it comes to booster shots, eight out of 10 adults have had their booster shots, those two out of 10 who haven’t yet come forward – it’s still a really good time to manifest.”