The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation, which advises on jabs, will examine results from a major study into which vaccine works best as a third dose
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Vaccines chiefs are expected to decide on Thursday whether to green light the Covid booster programme.
The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation is meeting to examine results from a major Covid study looking at which vaccine works best as a third dose.
The NHS is ready to kick off an immediate programme of widespread booster jabs across the country if they get approval.
Health Secretary Sajid Javid said the booster vaccine was expected to be recommended in the “next few days” as the work was almost done.
He told Sky News: “I want to give them the breathing space, it’s their independent view and that’s exactly what it should be. But I would expect to hear from them in the next few days.”
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A decision by the UK’s four chief medical officers to recommend the jab for healthy 12 to 15-year olds could also come as soon as today.
Ministers want to roll out vaccines to the age group within days amid fears the return of schools could lead to a spike in infections.
JCVI experts have spent months studying how boosters should be rolled out – including if different vaccine brands can be ‘mixed and matched’ or the flu jab given at the same time.
Last week they approved third doses, but only for around 500,000 people with weakened immune systems.
But AstraZeneca bosses have warned ministers not to rush into a decision on a nationwide rollout of third doses risks piling extra pressure on the NHS.
They claimed the country was just weeks away from a definitive answer on the effectiveness of two doses – which could mean a third may not be necessary.
Pascal Soriot, AZ’s chief executive, said: “A third dose for all may be needed, but it may be not. Moving too quickly to bost across the entire population will deprive us of these insights.”
Some 191 new deaths within 28 days of a positive Covid test were recorded and the UK recorded 38,975 new positive tests on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, angry Tory MPs urged the Government to drop plans for vaccine passports to be required to enter nightclubs and some other large indoor venues later this month.
Health minister Nadhim Zahawi heightened their fears over the proposal when he told them there will be “some essential services which will not need” people to show them.
But he faced savage attacks from Tory MPs when he said his own Government’s vaccine passport plan “goes against everything I believe in”.
Mr Zahawi confirmed plans to require people to be double jabbed to go to nightclubs and “other venues where large crowds gather” from the end of September.
Punters will no longer be allowed to present proof of a negative test to get in, he told the Commons.
Mr Zahawi said it “pains me” to implement something that “goes against the DNA” of the Prime Minister and himself.
But he faced a furious backlash, with Tory MPs branding the plan “discriminatory” and a “load of rubbish”.
Boris Johnson ditched his opposition to Covid passports in July when he served noticed to young people that they would have to be fully vaccinated to go clubbing from the end of September.