Experts want to wait and see how different groups of people respond to the new Covid vaccine before deciding who else should be fast-tracked for a jab.
The move means millions of Brits hoping to get the coronavirus vaccine will have to wait with final decision about how many of the under-50 age groups will get the jab still yet to be made.
Initial results from the US pharmaceutical giant Pfizer and its vaccine partner BioNTech announced on Monday suggest their jab is 90% effective at protecting people from Covid-19 – raising hopes of a vaccine being distributed to Brits in time for them to hug their loved ones at Christmas.
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But under plans put forward by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), vaccines will be rolled out to older members of society – depending on their effectiveness in this age group – alongside care home workers and health care staff, meaning millions of younger Brits won’t immediately have the option of a jab.
It is hoped that the first phase will protect 99% of those at risk of death from Covid-19, before moving on to younger age groups in order.
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But no decisions have been made on how the under-50s will be prioritised.
JCVI chairman Professor Wei Shen Lim told a Downing Street briefing: "We have not decided who else should be vaccinated beyond phase one.
"That's not to say that they shouldn't be vaccinated. We need more information on the vaccines, who they are good for and whether they protect against transmission or infection.
"In phase two of the programme it's likely that we'll prioritise individuals who may suffer because of the need for hospitalisation because of Covid or perhaps because of long Covid.
"The reason it's not been decided is because we need to also balance the possible prioritisation of individuals who are transmitting Covid instead."
The current JCVI interim guidance says the order of priority should be:
- Older adults in care homes and care home workers
- All those aged 80 and over and health and social care workers, though they may move up the list
- Anyone aged 75 and over
- 70 and over
- 65 and over
- High-risk adults under 65
- Moderate-risk adults under 65
- All those aged 60 and over
- 55 and over
- 50 and over
- The rest of the population, with priority yet to be determined
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