Covid boosters for all over-50s amid soaring infections

Everyone over the age of 50 will be offered a Covid-19 booster and flu jab this autumn, amid soaring infections across the country.

The Scottish Government announced it would follow new guidance in line with other UK nations.

The move is a change from previous guidance from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), which recommended that those older than 65 be offered the vaccinations.

It comes after the committee considered the spread of the BA.4 and BA.5 variants, as well as the benefits of combining the booster rollout with the flu vaccine rollout.

All over-50s will be offered boosters

Experts hope expanding the offer will provide necessary protection to those at higher risk of severe illness and keep greater numbers of people out of hospital.

Others who will be eligible for a further dose include residents in a care home for older adults and staff, frontline health and social care workers and those aged five to 49 in a clinical risk group – including pregnant women.

The jab will also be offered to those aged five to 49 who are household contacts of people with immunosuppression, and those aged 16 to 49 who are carers.

Professor Anthony Harnden, deputy chairman of the JCVI, said: “We have provided our final recommendations for the autumn programme to ensure the NHS and wider health system has time to plan a vaccine rollout well ahead of the winter season.

“The Covid-19 boosters are highly effective at increasing immunity and, by offering a further dose to those at higher risk of severe illness this autumn, we hope to significantly reduce the risk of hospitalisations and deaths over the winter.”

All eligible groups are being encouraged to take up the vaccine when it is offered even if they have had a spring booster, as long as it has been at least three months since their last vaccination.

Scottish Health Secretary Humza Yousaf said: “The vaccination programme in Scotland continues to be a huge success and this is testament to the efforts of everyone involved in its delivery and all those who took up their appointment offers.

“Vaccination has been our most effective tool against coronavirus. However, the degree of protection offered wanes over time.

“We know that those in high-priority groups are at higher risk of serious illness from COVID-19, and I therefore welcome this latest advice from the JCVI and can confirm that boosters will be offered to all those in eligible groups. The additional booster dose will improve your level of protection significantly and is the best way to protect yourself, your family and of course the NHS when we head into the busy winter months.

“I continue to encourage everyone to receive the doses they are eligible for as and when they become available.”

Rising infections

The number of people with Covid-19 in Scotland has risen for the sixth week in a row, new data shows.

Around one in 16 people in Scotland had coronavirus in the week to July 7, according to the infection survey produced by the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

This equates to around 334,000 people.

Covid-19 remains most prevalent in Scotland, the ONS said, after cases increased from the 312,800 reported last week.

Elsewhere, Wales saw infections jump to around one in 17 of its population, while England reported cases in around one in 19.

Cases in Northern Ireland were also seen in around one in 17 people.

Data for Wales, England and Northern Ireland covered the week ending July 6.

Sarah Crofts, head of analytical outputs for the ONS Covid-19 Infection Survey, said: “Infections are showing no signs of decreasing, with rates approaching levels last seen in March this year at the peak of the Omicron BA.2 wave.

“Rates have continued to increase across the UK and among all age groups. We will continue to closely monitor the data.”