Government website wrongly tells people to wait six months for Covid booster jab

This is despite a change in guidance from the UK’s vaccination watchdog, announced at the end of last month, that said booster doses should be offered at a minimum of three months after completion of the primary course.

The government website is incorrectly informing over-40s that they need to wait at least six months after their second Covid vaccine dose to receive a booster jab.

Originally, people were told to wait six months before getting a third dose, but the arrival of the omicron variant pushed the Joint Committee for Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) to shorten the waiting period.

The error is located on a vaccination guidance page provided by the UK Health Security Agency. Under the sub-title of ‘Timing of booster,’ it reads: “The booster is being offered at least 6 months after your last dose.”

It is specific to “people aged 40 years and over, health and social care workers and younger people at risk”.

However, under the current policy, as recommended by the JCVI, all adults over 18 are now eligible for a booster – though the rollout is working its way down the priority list through the different age groups.

The gov.uk page was last updated on 2 December. At the time of publishing, the error had yet to be corrected.

Dr Peter English, a former consultant in communicable disease control at Public Health England, said the mistake was “typical of the government’s often poor and confusing messaging about Covid-19.”

“It can be difficult to keep websites up to date,” he added. “With the best of intentions, organisations frequently post information, but it’s much harder to remove out of date information than it is to put up fresh new info.

“That’s why you need good systems to do this – I spent a career banging on about the Health Protection Agency and then Public Health England’s failures in this respect.”

People aged 40 and over are now being called forward for their Covid booster. The latest expansion means another seven million people can book their top-up jab amid continuing concerns over the new Omicron variant.

NHS chief executive Amanda Pritchard said the vaccine rollout was continuing “at speed” in the run-up to Christmas.

The government is aiming to have offered a booster jab to all eligible adults in England aged 18 and over by the end of January.

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