Front-line health and care workers in England and Wales will be the first people to receive booster COVID-19 vaccinations

Covid vaccine

On 17 September 2021, the NHS began a programme of booster COVID-19 vaccinations after the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) approved the move on 14 September.

Front-line health and care workers in England and Wales are first in line for the top-up jabs being offered at hospital hubs.

Work is underway to identify other eligible patients, who include people aged 12 years and over who are immunosuppressed, the NHS said.

The full vaccination roll-out will begin next week at vaccination centres and high-street pharmacies.

Booster vaccinations will be available for all people aged 50 years and over, but some people lower down the priority list may not be called up until 2022.

Dr Nikki Kanani, GP and Deputy Lead for the NHS England COVID-19 Vaccination Programme, said: ‘Alongside one of our busiest summers in the NHS, our hardworking staff have also been gearing up to deliver the autumn booster programme, to give further protection to healthcare and social care workers and those most at risk from the virus.

‘Now that the decision has been taken by the JCVI, and once the relevant checks are in place, the NHS will invite you for your booster vaccination. There is no need to contact the NHS—we will be in touch with you when it is your turn to get your booster vaccine, at least 6 months on since your last dose.’

Ruth Rankine, Director of Primary Care at the NHS Confederation, said that primary care was going ‘above and beyond’ to deliver the booster programme. This is in addition to ‘meeting an increasing demand for their services, as well as managing patients waiting for secondary care’, she said.

Those eligible will mainly receive a full dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine or half a dose of the Moderna vaccine.

The authorities have already approved a single dose of the Pfizer vaccine for children aged 12–15 years in England.

Antibody levels and vaccine rates 

An estimated 93.6% of adults in England would have tested positive for antibodies against severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) up until the end of August 2021, according to provisional figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

The figures were 93.3% in Scotland, 91.2% in Wales, and 91.9% in Northern Ireland.

Antibody levels have increased or remained high throughout the UK, the ONS said.

Statisticians also reported a steady increase in antibody positivity for young people aged 16–24 years, ranging from 86.9–88.7% across all four nations.

The ONS said that a more granular analysis suggested a decrease in antibody positivity in older age groups, although it stressed that this did not mean that older people had no protection against new infection.

Sarah Crofts, Head of Analytical Outputs for the COVID-19 Infection Survey, said: ‘The number of people with antibodies remains high across the UK adult population, with younger adults seeing the largest increase since the end of June [2021].

‘This is most likely due to more people in this group being vaccinated, but some will have developed antibodies from infection during wave 3.’

The percentage of people who have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine has remained high or continued to increase, the ONS found, ranging from 92.7–94.1% of adults across the UK.

The estimated percentage of adults in the UK who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 has also remained high or continued to increase, ranging from 81.7–86.7% of adults across the UK in the week beginning 23 August 2021.

Commenting on the findings for the Science Media Centre, Kevin McConway, Emeritus Professor of Applied Statistics at The Open University, said: ‘We’d know more about what’s going on if [the] ONS had started publishing results that distinguish between antibodies arising from vaccinations and antibodies arising from vaccination.’

Long COVID 

Between 3% and 11.7% of people infected with the SARS-CoV-2 virus experienced persistent symptoms 12 weeks after infection, according to experimental data from the ONS.

Among study participants in the Coronavirus Infection Survey, 5% reported any of 12 common symptoms 12–16 weeks after infection.

However, the prevalence was 3.4% in a control group of people without a positive COVID-19 test, which statisticians said reflected the commonness of those symptoms in the general population at any time.

In the COVID-19-positive group, 3% reported any of 12 commons symptoms compared with 0.5% in the control group.

Overall, 11.7% of study participants thought that they had experienced long COVID 12 weeks after infection.

According to the latest data from the ZOE COVID study, an estimated 781 people a day in the UK will go on to experience long COVID.

COVID prevalence 

COVID-19 case rates decreased in the week ending 12 September 2021, Public Health England said.

The fall applied to all regions of England and ethnic groups, and most age groups apart from children aged between 5 and 9 years.

Hospitalisations due to COVID-19 remained stable, whereas deaths from the disease decreased in the week, it said.

According to the ZOE COVID study, there are currently on average 47,276 new daily symptomatic cases of COVID-19 each day in the UK.

Researchers said that this was down 9% on last week.

In the fully vaccinated population, the estimate was 15,493 new daily symptomatic cases, a drop from 17,674 previously.

Daily new cases in the 18–35 years age group had fallen sharply, they said.

The R value was calculated as 0.9 in England and 1.0 in Scotland and Wales.

The latest survey figures were based on data from 32,409 swab tests carried out between 28 August and 11 September 2021.

This article originally appeared on Medscape, part of the Medscape Professional Network.

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