BRITS have been urged to come forward for their Covid boosters as immunity has been found to wane faster in the over 55s.
Many people have now had three jabs with some in vulnerable groups having had four.
Now a report from experts at King’s College London has found that a third dose of a jab boosts effectiveness – especially in the over 55s.
Over a million people have now received a spring booster, just two weeks since the latest phase of the campaign was launched.
The NHS is continuing to urge people to come forward for a fourth dose when they become eligible, with 570,000 more set to be invited next week.
The latest rollout includes the over 75s, adult care home residents and those who are immunosuppressed aged 12 and over.
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Published in the Lancet, the new study looks at data from over 600,000 people.
The experts at King’s College and the ZOE Symptom Tracker App looked at people who had received jabs between May and November 2021.
Experts found that there is substantial waning of vaccine effectiveness against Covid five to eight months after the second vaccine dose.
Individuals who had two doses of the Pfizer vaccine had 82.1 per cent protection after five months, 81.6 per cent after six months and 75.7 per cent after eight, data showed.
This is while those who had two doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine saw vaccine effectiveness at 75.7 per cent after five months and 75.2 per cent at six months.
Moderna vaccine effectiveness at five months was 84.3 per cent.
After five months, researchers saw a steeper decline of effectiveness in individuals aged over 55.
The researchers said that receiving a Moderna or Pfizer booster reverses a decline in vaccine effectiveness.
Brits with one or more illnesses who received two doses of the Pfizer or AstraZeneca vaccine had significantly lower vaccine effectiveness.
In those who had the Pfizer jab, that effectiveness at five months stood at 77.5 per cent compared to 82.8 per cent in healthy individuals, and 70.8 per cent compared to 76.1 per cent for the AstraZeneca vaccine.
Dr Cristina Menni, from King’s College London, said: “This latest study is reassuring as it shows that vaccine boosters are safe to use in the community.
“Indeed we find that the rate of side effects of boosters is lower than for second doses and most people will have a sore arm.”
The study published today in the Lancet also looked at side effects after the booster jab and found that just 15.9 per cent of people had at least one side effect – such as as fatigue, fevers and headache.
However, 73.4 per cent of people reported one of more side effects including pain in the site of infection.
It found that people who received a different booster vaccine from their first and second doses were more likely to have local and systemic side effects.
Tim Spector, Lead Scientist on the ZOE COVID Study and Professor from King’s College London said: “The clear benefits of vaccines on infection and severity do start to wear off faster in the over 55s and those with other diseases.
“This paper shows vaccine boosters are effective in restoring protection against infection.
“This supports the decision to recommence the booster campaigns in the UK to those who are at greater risk.
The study comes after the same scientists found that symptoms of the Omicron variant were less severe than those from Delta.
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King’s College experts found that people infected with Omicron were more likely to have a sore throat and less likely to experience a loss of smell compared with Delta.
It also found that the Omicron variant has a lower risk of hospitalisation and a shorter duration in the vaccinated population than previous variants.