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Winter vaccine schedule for Disabled people unclear

26 August 2021

Plans for the universal roll-out of a third booster vaccine are in doubt.

The Government is now likely to propose that only over-16s with immune-suppression, care home residents, over-70s, frontline health and social care workers and people classified as clinically extremely vulnerable may be considered for a third jab.

The news comes as new research shows that fully vaccinated adults can harbour Delta variant virus levels as high as unvaccinated people. There is not yet a consensus on whether this causes greater transmission of the virus, but it does raise concerns.

The current data suggests that people who cannot be vaccinated, and those with conditions the government does not recognise as making them clinically extremely vulnerable, may be at greater risk.

The government is currently funding a study, OCTAVE DUO, to determine the effectiveness of a third vaccine for people with weakened immune systems. The initial OCTAVE trial has published data showing that 89% of immunocompromised people produce antibodies following vaccination, with 60% generating a strong antibody response after a second dose. The remaining 40% show a low or undetectable immune response.

On 1 August 2021, 91% of people identified as clinically extremely vulnerable, had received both doses of the vaccine, with 94% having had their first dose.

The government is also considering reducing the age limit for people who can have vaccines down from 16 to 12 with a view that this will stop the virus from sweeping through secondary schools in the autumn term, and protect clinically vulnerable teenagers.

DR UK’s Fazilet Hadi said: “We heard from many Disabled people who were vulnerable to the worst effects of the virus during lockdown who were not in the top priority groups for vaccination. If the Government is going to offer booster jabs to those it considers to be the most clinically vulnerable, it must focus on groups one to six, not just groups one to four. Group six included people with conditions such as kidney disease, learning disabilities, motor neurone disease and ME. We know that hospitalisations and deaths are down as a result of the vaccine rollout, but there are still thought to be over two million people who have developed long covid. This debilitating condition wrecks both lives and the economy.”