Coronavirus booster vaccines to be offered to over 50s in Autumn
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Since the beginning of the pandemic, over-50s have been recognised as a high-risk group. They are more likely to develop a severe illness from Covid compared to fitter and younger people. Experts are urging high-risk groups to schedule in their Covid vaccine boosters. If infection rates soar, it could risk delayed emergency treatment for those most in need.
High-risk groups, according to the NHS, include those who have:
- Down’s syndrome
- Blood cancer, such as leukaemia or lymphoma
- Sickle cell diseaseChronic kidney disease (stage four or five)
- Severe liver disease
- Had an organ or bone marrow transplant
- Rheumatoid arthritis or inflammatory bowel disease
- HIV or AIDS and have a weakened immune system
- A condition affecting your immune system
- Multiple sclerosis, motor neurone disease, Huntington’s disease or myasthenia gravis
- Cerebral palsy
- Severe or multiple learning disabilities
- A weakened immune system due to a medical treatment (such as steroid medicine, biological therapy, chemotherapy or radiotherapy).
Dr Fivelman explained that “it’s vital people have a high level of antibodies to protect against severe disease”, emphasising the importance of the nation being up-to-date with their Covid vaccinations.
Data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) suggests that antibody levels across the UK have been consistently falling since April, adding that another jab may be the most effective way of driving up national immunity and protecting over-50s from severe illness.
Interestingly, recent research from the US has uncovered that the Covid viral spike protein has been detected in the blood of 65 percent of long Covid participants.
It has also been discovered that Covid may remain active in the gut for long periods of time, suggesting that long Covid may be a long-term, low-grade infection.
With declining British immunity, the possibility of the virus mutating has been greatly magnified.
Notably, Dr Fivelman is concerned that more than one in 30 people could be infected with the virus right now.
Ensuring that UK antibody levels remain high is the key to battling a resurgence of the virus.
Experts are insistent that over-50s should arrange for their booster in order to protect against threatening Covid symptoms. The NHS listed the symptoms of coronavirus, which are:
A high temperature or shivering (chills) – a high temperature means you feel hot to touch on your chest or back (you do not need to measure your temperature)A new, continuous cough – this means coughing a lot for more than an hour, or three or more coughing episodes in 24 hoursA loss or change to your sense of smell or tasteShortness of breathFeeling tired or exhaustedAn aching bodyA headacheA sore throatA blocked or runny noseLoss of appetiteDiarrhoeaFeeling sick or being sick.
The UK is the first country to approve a dual-strain vaccine, which tackles the original Covid virus and the Omicron variant. It is Moderna’s latest jab, which has been called Spikevax.
Dr June Raine, the chief executive of the UK’s Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), commented on Spikevax.
“What this bivalent vaccine gives us is a sharpened tool in our armoury to help protect us against this disease as the virus continues to evolve,” she said.
Ministers say the vaccine will now form part of the autumn booster campaign.
Around 26 million people are eligible for some form of the booster, with health officials saying that people should take whichever booster they are offered.
No matter which Covid booster vaccine is offered, all of them provide protection against the virus.
As with any type of vaccination, people can experience side effects which should not last longer than a week.
Typical side effects of any booster can include:A sore arm from the injectionFeeling tiredA headacheFeeling achyFeeling or being sick.
“You may also get a high temperature or feel hot or shivery one or two days after your vaccination,” the NHS added.
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