'One shot' vaccines could be targeted at refuseniks in Covid hotspots

·2 min read
Debenhams department store turned into a vaccination centre - Chris Ratcliffe /Bloomberg 
Debenhams department store turned into a vaccination centre - Chris Ratcliffe /Bloomberg

A “one shot” jab could be targeted at vaccine refuseniks in areas which see surges in cases, The Telegraph understands.

The vaccine by Johnson & Johnson is expected to get approval any day, with health officials saying it may be used for “hard to reach” groups.

Regulators are expected to authorise the jab shortly, with 30 million doses ordered for the UK.

The first batches are not expected to arrive until July, by which time the main vaccine rollout should be reaching the youngest adults.

But health officials suggested the “one chance” jab could be deployed to target those who have refused previous offers of the vaccine, particularly in areas which have seen surges in cases.

Stocks of the Johnson & Johnson jabs, also known as Janssen, could also be used later in the year as part of the programme of booster doses for all over-50s.

One source said: “It will be a really useful addition, it could help us to catch up in areas where we have seen vaccine hesitancy, especially in areas which have seen surges.”

The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency is expected to authorise the jab shortly. The regulator is also currently considering an application by Novavax, a vaccine which has shown a strong response against new variants, and which may be deployed for booster jabs.

Earlier this month Professor Jonathan Van-Tam, the deputy chief medical officer, said the one dose nature of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine could be crucial in improving uptake among groups that have failed to take up the offer.

He said: "It will be authorised as a single dose schedule and that could potentially make it very important, rather than no vaccine, in populations that are hard to reach; basically where you have one chance of vaccinating them and little chance of calling them back for a second vaccine."

Medical regulators said that, so far, data suggests the jabs may have a similar safety profile to the AstraZeneca vaccine, which is largely being restricted to those over the age of 40.

This week the NHS vaccine programme will begin offering jabs to those aged 35 and over, who are being offered Moderna and Pfizer vaccines.

More than 20 million people, including the vast majority of those aged 70 and over, have now had both doses of vaccine, latest figures show.

In total, 36.6 million people have had at least one dose, meaning almost seven in 10 adults have had a jab.