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UK cuts booking time for COVID booster vaccines by a month – Republic World

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The UK’s health service on Saturday announced a one-month slash in booking times for a top-up COVID-19 vaccine shot, inviting those aged 50 and over to book their booster jabs after a five-month gap from their second dose.

From Monday, the National Health Service (NHS) National Booking System will allow people to pre-book their booster appointment a month before they are eligible.

Everyone aged over 50 and all those classified as most at risk from COVID-19 should qualify for a booster six months after their second dose. Currently, they can only book an appointment at the six-month mark.

From next week, they will be able to book their appointment after five months, which means that someone could pre-book their jab for the day they reach the six-month milestone, rather than waiting days or weeks for a convenient appointment. It is expected to benefit millions of eligible people.

“COVID-19 vaccines are the best way to protect yourself and your family ahead of a challenging winter and this change to the booking system will make it as easy as possible for people to book their booster jabs,” said UK Health Secretary Sajid Javid.

“This will accelerate the booster programme, ensure the NHS is able to vaccinate people as quickly as possible, and importantly help more people maintain protection against COVID-19 as we know immunity will dip over time. Please do not delay – come and get the jab to keep the virus at bay,” he said.

More than 9 million people have already received their top-up vaccines in England, intended to extend the protection from their first two doses over the winter months.

The latest change to the booking system will further speed up the booster vaccine rollout. “The COVID-19 booster programme is making great progress – thank you to the NHS and everybody who has come forward so far to secure vital protection ahead of the winter,” said UK Vaccines Minister Maggie Throup, as she called on eligible categories to book their jabs.

The colder weather traditionally leads to increased transmission of viruses. Vaccines are found to give high levels of protection but immunity reduces over time, particularly for older adults and at-risk groups, therefore the NHS message is that it is vital that vulnerable people come forward to get their COVID-19 booster vaccine to top-up their defences and protect themselves this winter.

“While this winter is undoubtedly going to be different, the most important thing you can do is come forward for both your COVID booster and flu jab as soon as possible – now with the added convenience of booking in advance – making it even easier to protect yourself and loves ones,” said NHS national medical director Stephen Powis.

The latest evidence from the UK government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) shows that protection against symptomatic disease falls from 65 per cent, up to three months after the second dose, to 45 per cent six months after the second dose for the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine, and from 90 per cent to 65 per cent for the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine.

Protection against hospitalisation falls from 95 per cent to 75 percent for Oxford/AstraZeneca and 99 per cent to 90 per cent for Pfizer/BioNTech.

The booster programme is designed to top up this waning immunity. Early results from Pfizer show that a booster following a primary schedule of the same vaccine restores protection back up to 95.6 per cent against symptomatic infection.

Last week, clinical guidance was updated to enable COVID-19 boosters to be given slightly earlier to those at highest risk, where this makes operational sense to do so, especially in elderly care home settings. It is also expected to help with other vulnerable groups, such as housebound patients, so that they can have their flu and COVID-19 vaccines at the same time.

The move comes as the UK’s daily coronavirus rates continue a downward trend, with 34,029 cases and 193 COVID-19 deaths registered on Friday – compared to 37,269 cases and 214 deaths the previous day. 

(Disclaimer: This story is auto-generated from a syndicated feed; only the image & headline may have been reworked by www.republicworld.com)

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UK study finds mRNA COVID-19 vaccines provide biggest booster impact – Fiji Times

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LONDON (Reuters) -COVID-19 vaccines made by Pfizer and Moderna that use mRNA technology provide the biggest boost to antibody levels when given 10-12 weeks after the second dose, a new British study has found.

The “COV-Boost” study was cited by British officials when they announced that Pfizer and Moderna were preferred for use in the country’s booster campaign, but the data has only been made publicly available now.

The study found that six of the seven boosters examined enhanced immunity after initial vaccination with Pfizer-BioNTech’s vaccine, while all seven increased immunity when given after two doses of AstraZeneca’s vaccine.

“A third dose will be effective for many of the vaccines we’ve tested and in many different combinations,” Professor Saul Faust, an immunologist at the University of Southampton and the trial’s lead, told reporters.

The study, published late on Thursday, found that a full dose or half dose of Pfizer or a full dose of Moderna gave a strong boost to both antibody and T-cell levels, regardless of whether the person initially received Pfizer or AstraZeneca.

“All four of the vaccination regimes most widely deployed in the UK lead to essentially the same levels of immunity and are likely to be equally effective,” said Professor Eleanor Riley, immunologist at the University of Edinburgh. She added that a policy change in booster gaps was also supported by the data.

“These data support the JCVI (vaccine committee) decision earlier this week to bring forward booster doses to 3 months after the second vaccination.”

When AstraZeneca, Novavax, Johnson & Johnson and Curevac were given as boosters, they increased antibody levels for either initial vaccine, albeit to a smaller degree, the study found. However, while Valneva boosted antibodies in people initially vaccinated with AstraZeneca, it did not provide a boost for Pfizer.

The COV-Boost study pre-dated the spread of the emergent Omicron variant of concern, and Faust said he had shared samples with the UK Health Security Agency to generate data on Omicron.

The study did however find that booster shots also helped to generate a broad T-cell response against the Beta and Delta variants, which may play a key role in longer-term protection.

A separate study by Imperial College London into how initial exposure to SARS-CoV-2 shapes immune responses, also published late on Thursday, similarly found a good T-cell response to both Alpha and Delta after infection followed by vaccination.

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Dutch former queen Beatrix tests positive for COVID-19

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Dutch former queen Beatrix, 83, has tested positive for COVID-19, the royal information service RVD said in a statement Saturday.

Princess Beatrix, as she has been known since her abdication in 2013, got tested after coming down with “mild cold symptoms”, the statement said.

“The princess is at home in isolation and adheres to the rules of life for people who have tested positive,” it added.

The Netherlands has been experiencing a record-breaking wave of COVID-19 cases that is threatening to overwhelm the country’s healthcare system.

(Reporting by Stephanie van den Berg; Editing by Alex Richardson)

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‘I was shocked’: Mother, child mistakenly given COVID-19 vaccine instead of flu shot – Comox Valley Record

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A Manitoba mother says a routine appointment for her and her three-year-old to get flu shots ended in frustration and mixed messages after they were each mistakenly given an adult dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.

Jenna Bardarson is calling for policy changes at the province’s vaccination centres to make sure that doesn’t happen to another family.

The shots were administered on Nov. 24 at the Keystone Centre in Brandon.

Bardarson says that shortly after she and her daughter, Dali, got their shots, the health worker who had given them excused herself to speak with a supervisor. When the worker returned, she told them she had made a mistake and given them both the adult Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.

“I was shocked. I didn’t know what to say. My immediate concerns were, of course, would my daughter be OK and also who could I speak to about this,” Bardarson said in online social media messages Friday to The Canadian Press.

Once she got home, Bardarson made multiple calls to different departments with the regional medical authority, hoping to speak with someone about the error and her concerns, she said.

She said no one was able to provide her with the answers or information she needed. “The conversations with various Prairie Mountain Health members have been frustrating, to say the least.”

Bardarson said she already had two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine and was due for her booster shot next month. Her daughter is too young to be eligible.

Health Canada last month approved a pediatric version of the Pfizer shot for children ages five to 11, but it has not yet approved a vaccine for those under five.

Bardarson said she and her daughter had headaches and sore arms the following day. Her daughter had no appetite and was throwing up.

Manitoba Health confirmed the mistake in a statement and said staff from Prairie Mountain have reached out to the mother to discuss what happened as well as to provide an update on an investigation.

“Patient safety is a critical aspect of all health-care services in Manitoba. We are constantly reviewing our processes to ensure that our systems support our staff in preventing errors,” it said.

“In this case … our team reviewed the existing processes to make adjustments that would help avoid a similar error from occurring in the future.”

Bardarson said the health region has not provided her with updated information on the investigation and would not discuss any consequences the health worker may have faced.

Manitoba Health said no further action would be taken against the worker, because she immediately recognized the error and told a supervisor.

For Bardarson, that’s not enough.

“I by no means want her fired; however, there should be some sort of measures in place for harm reduction.”

Bardarson suggested taking away the worker’s injection privileges or enhanced supervision during vaccinations.

She said she would also like to see areas at vaccination centres separated by vaccine types, instead of having different vaccines offered in the same booth.

Manitoba Health could not say if others have been given a COVID-19 vaccine by mistake, but acknowledged that medication errors, although rare, do occur. It added that Bardarson was provided with information about the risks of the COVID-19 vaccine, which in this case it says are low.

Health Canada said it is not in charge of immunization monitoring and could not comment on whether similar mistakes have occurred in other parts of the country.

– Brittany Hobson, The Canadian Press

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