UK experts have confirmed that a fourth Covid jab is not yet needed because booster doses still give a high level of protection against severe symptoms from the Omnicon variant.

Date from the UK Health Security Agency shows that, for people aged 65 and over, protection against hospitalisation is still at around 90% three months after having had the booster. Protection against mild symptomatic infections drops to around 30% after three months.

Protection against severe disease drops to around 70% after three months and 50% after six months for those who have only had two doses of the vaccine.

According to the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JVCI), the priority is to get the first three vaccine doses to those who have not yet had them.

This advice is published at a time when some countries, such as Israel, are beginning to offer the fourth vaccine shot to their citizens in an effort to manage the Omnicon variant and rising number of infections which are spreading throughout the world.

In summary, the JCVI advises at the present time:

  • 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
  • priority should continue to be given to rolling out first booster doses to all age groups
  • unvaccinated individuals should come forward for their first 2 doses as soon as possible

Professor Wei Shen Lim, the JCVI’s chair of COVID-19 immunisation, said:

“The current data shows 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 forward for their booster dose, or if unvaccinated, for their first 2 doses, to increase their protection against serious illness.”

Deputy chairmain the JCVI, Professor Anthony Harnden, also confirmed:

“At the moment all the signs are good.

“What isn’t sustainable in the long term is vaccine programme that delivers a vaccine every three months.

“We just don’t think it’s the right time at the moment.”