UK experts have advised that booster doses continue to provide high protection against severe disease from the Omicron variant among older adults, meaning a fourth jab is not yet needed, APA reports citing The Guardian.
Around three months after boosting, protection against hospitalisation among those aged 65 and over remained at about 90%, the latest figures from the UK Health Security Agency show. Protection against mild symptomatic infection is more short-lived, dropping to around 30% by about three months.
In comparison, with just two vaccine doses, protection against severe disease drops to around 70% after three months and to 50% after six months.
The priority therefore remains to get first, second and third doses to those who have not already had them, the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation said.
This is despite some countries including Israel rolling out fourth Covid shots in response to the highly infectious Omicron, which is driving up infections around the world.
Prof Wei Shen Lim, the JCVI’s chair of Covid-19 immunisation, said:
"The current data show the booster dose is continuing to provide high levels of protection against severe disease, even for the most vulnerable older age groups. For this reason, the committee has concluded there is no immediate need to introduce a second booster dose, though this will continue to be reviewed.
The data is highly encouraging and emphasises the value of a booster jab. With Omicron continuing to spread widely, I encourage everyone to come forwards for their booster dose, or if unvaccinated, for their first two doses, to increase their protection against serious illness."
Extremely vulnerable patients with impaired immune systems are advised to have four shots overall, rather than the usual three, to be fully vaccinated.
But the JCVI said there is no immediate need to introduce a second booster dose, or fourth jab, to the most vulnerable care home residents and those aged over 80.
The timing and need for further booster doses will continue to be reviewed as the data evolves, it added.