MP calls for 'clarity' over plans for Covid booster jabs
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A Suffolk MP has called for greater clarity over when Covid booster jabs will be rolled out this autumn and who will receive the vaccine.
Peter Aldous, MP for Waveney, called for "a clear strategy" to be announced quickly, following conflicting suggestions over who will qualify for a booster jab.
After one Covid study this week suggested vaccine protection starts to wane within six months, an announcement is still awaited on plans for the autumn booster campaign.
Mr Aldous said: "Some weeks ago the government gave a clear undertaking it was going to have a major booster jab campaign starting in September, aimed at everyone over 50.
"In the last week or so, I have noticed some rowing back on that commitment.
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"What I think the government should be doing is to clarify the situation very quickly, and come up with a clear strategy."
Ipswich MP Tom Hunt said there had been various different studies which all had to be analysed, however.
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He said: "I think it's for the medical experts, who are obviously analysing the data, to decide what they think needs to be done.
"The sooner the government can give an indication, the better, but they also have to make the right decision."
This week, a study concluded that the protection provided by two doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech and Oxford/AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccines starts to wane within six months.
And one reasonable worst-case scenario predicted protection could fall to below 50% for the elderly and healthcare workers by winter.
A separate study found 40% of people who are immunosuppressed – either through medical treatment or by disease – generated a lower antibody response compared with healthy adults.
The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) is expected to make an announcement in days on whether the autumn booster campaign will go ahead for over-50s and the clinically vulnerable.
The NHS has been preparing to begin on September 6, alongside its annual flu campaign.
Prema Fairburn-Dorai, who chairs the Suffolk Association of Independent Care Providers, said: "I know the government has been thinking for a long time that boosters will be needed, and I think it will be similar to the previous vaccination roll-out."
She said care providers were currently waiting to hear what the arrangements for the booster vaccination would be, but expected older people to be prioritised.