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Covid booster shots for the over 70s in September, says Stratford MP Nadhim Zahawi

PEOPLE aged over 70 could begin getting booster shots in September to protect them against new coronavirus variants under plans for the future of the vaccine rollout.

Stratford MP and vaccines minister, Nadhim Zahawi, said the first booster doses would go to the top four priority groups, including care home staff, NHS workers and the clinically extremely vulnerable.

He told the Telegraph that this would likely begin in September and was said to have added that the Government is expecting up to eight different jabs to be available by the autumn, including one protecting against three different variants in a single dose.

A number will reportedly be manufactured in the UK, which could ease the pressure on supplies amid tensions with the European Union as it faces shortages from AstraZeneca.

Asked when the booster programme would begin, Mr Zahawi told the newspaper: “Jonathan Van-Tam (the deputy chief medical officer) thinks that if we are going to see a requirement for a booster jab to protect the most vulnerable, (it) would be around September.”

Dr Mike Tildesley, who advises the government on the Spi-M modelling group, said it was “good news” that September has been suggested for boosters, but warned the arrival of new variants must be stalled.

“In the shorter term, we are worried about new variants, but if we can keep these out for a longer period of time, enough time for these boosters to be developed, then that should hopefully protect us as we go into the winter,” he told Times Radio.

Ministers were facing pressure to protect the success of the vaccination programme against the import of new variants from overseas, with the Guardian reporting officials met on Friday to consider expanding the travel “red list” mandating hotel quarantine.

Mr Zahawi has also said that drive-through vaccination centres could be opened in the coming months.

“It’s a great way as you do the under-50s, the under-40s, under-30s. Convenience becomes a much greater tool to deploy because you want to make sure for those people, where we think there may be greater hesitancy, we make it as convenient as we can make it,” he said.

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