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COVID-19 booster advice published

Bivalent vaccines part of programme

August 15th 2022

Tagged: COVID19

By Ailsa Colquhoun

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has published advice on the COVID-19 vaccines to be used in this year’s autumn booster programme:

For adults aged 18 years and above:

  • Moderna mRNA (Spikevax) bivalent Omicron BA.1/Original ‘wild-type’ vaccine
  • Moderna mRNA (Spikevax) Original ‘wild-type’ vaccine
  • Pfizer-BioNTech mRNA (Comirnaty) Original ‘wild-type’ vaccine
  • In exceptional circumstances, the Novavax Matrix-M adjuvanted wild-type vaccine (Nuvaxovid) may be used when no alternative clinically suitable UK-approved COVID-19 vaccine is available

For people aged 12 to 17 years:

  • Pfizer-BioNTech mRNA (Comirnaty) Original ‘wild-type’ vaccine

For people aged 5 to 11 years:

  • Pfizer-BioNTech mRNA (Comirnaty) Original ‘wild-type’ vaccine paediatric formulation

Bivalent vaccines contain two different antigens, based on two different COVID-19 strains.  Studies indicate the Moderna bivalent vaccine produces a marginally higher immune response against some variants than the Moderna mRNA Original ‘wild-type’ vaccine. The clinical relevance of these small differences is uncertain.

In its latest advice the JCVI has stated that, where feasible, it would be preferable for a single type of booster vaccine to be offered throughout the duration of the autumn programme.

Bivalent vaccines containing antigens for other variants, such as the Omicron BA.4 and BA.5 strains, are under development but are unlikely to be approved and readily available in time for this autumn’s programme.

The JCVI previously advised booster vaccines should be offered this autumn to:

  • Residents in a care home for older adults and staff working in care homes for older adults
  • Frontline health and social care workers
  • All adults aged 50 years and over
  • Persons aged 5 to 49 years in a clinical risk group, as set out in the Green Book
  • Persons aged 5 to 49 years who are household contacts of people with immunosuppression
  • Persons aged 16 to 49 years who are carers, as set out in the Green Book