The government is expanding the Covid-19 booster vaccine programme in the island.

Booster jabs will be offered to all adults from the age of 18, with the rollout continuing in age order, giving priority to older adults and those in at-risk groups.

They will shortly be offered from three months after an individual’s second dose.

These changes will be put in place once the ’necessary protocols and paperwork have been received from the UK’, according to the government.

Also, the island is to increase protection for children and young people aged 12 to 15 with the offer of a second dose at a minimum of 12 weeks following the first dose.

Those aged 16 to 17 are also to be offered a second dose at an interval of at least eight weeks.

People in the immune-suppressed group who have had their third dose of vaccine will get a booster after three months.

Currently, plans are being prepared and the public are asked not to call 111 asking for their booking to be changed while the schedule is reworked.

More information on this, and the offer of second doses to 12- to 17-year-olds, ’will be announced soon’.

This comes after a change in advice from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) following the emergence of the Omicron variant.

Boosters are currently recommended for adults aged 40 and over, frontline health and care workers and people with certain health conditions.

The latest recommendation from the JCVI was accepted by the UK Government and announced in the House of Commons by the UK Secretary of State of Sajid Javid earlier this week.

Evidence about the effectiveness of vaccines against the Omicron variant is ’still being gathered’, but it is thought the ’higher levels of antibodies produced by vaccines will continue to offer some level of immunity’.

Increasing that immunity through boosters, to reduce serious illness, hospitalisations and deaths is driving the booster programme changes.

Minister for Health and Social Care Lawrie Hooper said: ’We will learn more in the weeks ahead about how transmissible the Omicron variant is and how severe its symptoms are but we know that the vaccines used in the booster programme substantially increase antibody levels when given as a booster dose - and that vaccination remains our most important line of defence.

’Extending the booster programme is a substantial undertaking requiring additional resources, and teams in DHSC and Manx Care are working extremely hard to organise this, to ensure as many people as possible are protected with a booster jab.

’Having a booster will increase your defences against coronavirus, remembering that the Delta variant remains by far the most dominant in our community. I urge everyone to take up the offer of a booster and attend the appointment you are given - to protect yourself, your family and our health services.’

Extending the booster programme to all adults will take the number of people in the population eligible for a booster from 50,400 to 62,170.