ALL over 50s will get another Covid booster in September, health chiefs have confirmed – as cases rose by almost 800,000 last week.
The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunization said an additional vaccination will be offered to those over 50, vulnerable people and health and care workers.
Infections across the UK have reached 3.5million after increasing by a third for the sixth consecutive week.
The Office for National Statistics said one in 19 Brits now carries the virus.
The JCVI updated the booster introduction from its previous recommendations and expanded it to include 50-64 year olds.
Professor Anthony Harnden, Vice-Chair of the JCVI, said: “By offering an extra dose to those at higher risk of serious illness, we hope to significantly reduce the risk of hospitalizations and deaths during the winter.”
Free flu shots will again be offered to those over 50 and all schoolchildren this year as officials said the bug had “returned very strongly this year”.
Rollout of the winter virus vaccines begins in September, just six weeks from now, with Britons being invited in order of priority, elders coming first.
dr Mary Ramsay, Head of Immunizations at the UK Health Security Agency, said: “The extension of eligibility for the flu vaccine will help reduce the number of people falling seriously ill and ease pressure on the NHS, particularly during the pandemic busy winter time.”
The latest ONS figures show there were 2.9 million Covid cases in England as of July 6, with 334,000 in Scotland, 183,500 in Wales and 107,600 in Northern Ireland.
All were higher than a week earlier, with the UK total rising 29 per cent.
The number of NHS hospital patients with Covid is 13,975 in England, the highest since April.
Daily entries are also at a three-month high but have flattened out around 1,850.
Officials are concerned about the flu’s resurgence this winter, with cases in Australia, which is hit in the UK in the summer, up to 10 times higher than average.
A senior health source said they were “more precautionary” by stabbing against both Covid and the flu.
Health Secretary Steve Barclay said: “Viruses spread more easily in the colder seasons when people gather indoors so the risk of catching Covid is higher.
“It is absolutely essential that the most vulnerable groups receive a booster vaccine to boost their immunity.”
Prime Minister Boris Johnson added: “Vaccines have been our way out of this pandemic and now they will ensure that Covid can never haunt us in the same way again.”
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