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Britain is expanding COVID-19 Booster vaccine program for millions more to help combat the spread of the new Omicron variant, which is expected to be more infectious and vaccine resistant.

The British government said on Monday it would fully accept the revised recommendations of the independent body of scientists advising it, chief of which is that everyone between the ages of 18 and 39 should be offered a booster shot. needed. Till now, only people over the age of 40, as well as those particularly vulnerable to the virus, were eligible.

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The change means that about 13 million more people will be eligible for the vaccine. To date, the UK has given approximately 17.5 million booster shots.

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In addition to expanding the rollout, the Joint Committee on Immunization and Immunization (JCVI) also said that booster doses for all age groups should be given no earlier than three months after the second dose. It is three months away from the current wait.

In further advice, the JCVI said youth ages 12 to 15 should be offered a second dose of the Pfizer vaccine, no earlier than 12 weeks after their first.

Accepting the new advice, Health Secretary Sajid Javid told lawmakers: “With this new version on the offensive, these measures will protect more people more quickly and better protect us as a nation.”

The major revision of the booster rollout comes after six more cases were reported in Scotland and two more in England. This takes the UK total to 11.

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said not all cases identified in Scotland were linked to travel to countries in southern Africa, suggesting “some community transmission”.

The proliferation of the Omicron variant, which has significantly more mutations than previous strains, has raised fears that the coronavirus pandemic will gain new legs in the coming months. It will take a few weeks for scientists to get a greater understanding of how the new variant is spreading.

England’s deputy medical officer Jonathan Van-Tam said: “We have always said that we will find a version that causes us great concern.” “We’re with Omicron at that point. It’s the new kid on the block for now.”

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Passengers arrive at Heathrow Airport in London on Monday, November 29, 2021.

The British government has already tightened rules on the wearing of masks and testing arrivals in the country. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Saturday that it was necessary to take “targeted and precautionary measures” in England.

More stringent rules have come into force in other UK countries over the past few months after most lockdown restrictions were lifted. Sturgeon said she and her Welsh counterpart, Mark Drakeford, had written to Johnson asking everyone arriving in the UK to self-isolate for at least eight days. Johnson has said that arrivals will need to undergo a high-standard PCR test by the end of their second day in the country and self-isolate until a negative result is obtained.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said from Tuesday it would be necessary to wear a mask in shops and on public transport.

New rules for England, which will make wearing masks mandatory in shops and public transport on Tuesday, though not in pubs and restaurants, are expected to be reviewed in three weeks. High school students in England are also being advised to wear masks in communal areas, such as corridors, but not in classrooms.

Van-Tam urged people to get boosters and expressed his hope that vaccines will continue to keep a lid on serious illness.

“I’m not asking people to panic, but I’m not asking them to completely ignore the weather forecast,” he said.