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Omicron variant concerns prompt UK to expand boosters for all adults

Click to play video: 'COVID-19: U.K. to offer booster vaccine to all adults 18+ amid concerns over Omicron' COVID-19: U.K. to offer booster vaccine to all adults 18+ amid concerns over Omicron
WATCH: UK to offer booster vaccine to all adults 18+ amid concerns over Omicron – Nov 29, 2021

Great Britain will offer a COVID-19 booster vaccine to all adults and give second doses to children aged between 12 and 15, the UK’s top vaccine advisers said on Monday, accelerating shots in light of concern about the spread of the Omicron variant.

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunization said that all adults between 18 to 39 years old could receive shots, extending a program that is already open for over 40s.

Click to play video: 'Omicron variant detected in Canada' Omicron variant detected in Canada
Omicron variant detected in Canada – Nov 29, 2021

The JCVI also said that the gap between second doses and boosters could be shortened to three months from six months, in response to the changing risk posed by Omicron.

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“Having a booster dose of the vaccine will help to increase our level of protection against the Omicron variant,” said Wei Shen Lim, the JCVI’s Chair for COVID-19 immunization.

Read more: Omicron COVID-19 variant poses ‘very high’ global risk, WHO warns

JCVI reiterated that they advised a largely age-based approach to the booster program, with older adults as well as vulnerable people prioritized for shots.

There have been nine cases of the Omicron variant reported in Britain, and scientists are concerned that it has mutations linked with higher transmissibility and a possible reduction in the effectiveness of vaccines.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Saturday had instructed the JCVI to review the booster program urgently given the evolving situation with Omicron after the first cases of the variant were reported.

Click to play video: 'What we know about the Omicron variant' What we know about the Omicron variant
What we know about the Omicron variant – Nov 29, 2021

Though Johnson’s government controls health policy in England alone, JCVI has informed the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

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The panel reiterated that Moderna and Pfizer’s vaccine were the preferred vaccines to use in booster shots.

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