By Danica Kirka, The Associated Press
LONDON (AP) – British government advisers have recommended against giving a fourth dose of the COVID-19 vaccine to residents of nursing homes and people over 80 because data shows the third shot provides lasting protection against hospitalization.
For people over 65, protection against hospitalization remains at around 90% three months after the third dose, according to data collected by the UK’s Health Security Agency.
As a result, the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunization advised the government on Friday that there was no need to provide a fourth dose, or a second booster dose, to vulnerable people at this time. Instead, the government should focus on giving a third dose to as many people as possible to enhance protection against the highly transmissible omicron variant.
Professor Wei Shen Lim, chair of the committee, said: “Current data show that the booster dose continues to provide high levels of protection against severe disease, even for older age groups at risk.” “For this reason, the committee concluded that there was no immediate need to introduce a second booster dose, although this is still being reviewed.”
The UK is racing to offer booster doses to adults across the country after research showed two doses were enough to protect people from omicron. This alternative has led to an increase in coronavirus cases and hospitalizations.
The number of people hospitalized in the UK due to COVID-19 rose to 18,454 on Thursday, more than double the number two weeks ago.
High rates of staff absenteeism in UK hospitals prompted the army to provide support to beleaguered doctors and nurses.
More than 39,000 hospital staff in England were out of work for reasons related to COVID-19 on January 2, a 59% increase from the previous week, according to NHS England.
The respected trade magazine, Health Service Journal, said staff absences across the NHS, including mental health trusts and other areas, could be as high as 120,000.
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