UK govt confirms virus booster jab plans

·1-min read

People in the UK will receive booster shots to extend the effectiveness of their vaccines against COVID-19, the health minister says.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the government was "ramping up plans" for an extra shot to make sure the vaccines stay "ahead" of the virus, in an update to MPs on the handling of the pandemic.

"The biggest risk to our progress here in the UK is a new variant which the vaccine does not work as well against," he said.

"We know from our response to other viruses such as flu that we need updated vaccines to tackle mutated viruses. So as we complete the program for first and second jabs, we're ramping up plans for a booster shot."

Enough vaccines have already been procured by the UK government to start the roll-out of boosters for later this year, Hancock said.

The government will also be working with vaccine suppliers to identify which vaccines work best as booster shots and also to create new vaccines "specifically designed" to tackle emerging variants.

The government has ordered 457 million doses from eight different vaccine manufacturers so far.

Inoculation programs in England and Wales are using vaccines made by Pfizer-BioNTech, AstraZeneca-Oxford and Moderna.

The first two are being used in Scotland and Northern Ireland.