BGS update on the interval between the first and second doses of the COVID-19 vaccine

02 February 2021

The British Geriatrics Society supported the recommendation of the Chief Medical Officers of the four nations to extend the interval between the first and second doses of the COVID-19 vaccine. This approach aimed to protect the greatest number of at-risk people overall in the shortest possible time, to have the greatest impact on reducing mortality, severe disease and hospitalisations and to protect the NHS and equivalent health services. The BGS continues to support the widespread roll-out of the vaccine to older people as a priority, whether they live at home, in a care home or in another setting.

It is critically important that people receive the second dose of the vaccination within twelve weeks to achieve long-term protection from the virus. No vaccine can deliver 100% protection from COVID-19, and there will be cases where those who have been fully vaccinated with both doses do subsequently contract the virus, though their symptoms are likely to be less severe. This can happen where people live in close contact, such as in a care home, and underlines why distancing, mask-wearing and hygiene measures need to be maintained.

As the vaccination schedule progresses, there has been reporting of some new COVID-19 outbreaks in care homes. We are working with colleagues in the DHSC and NHS to understand the emerging data collected following initial vaccination of care home residents and staff. It is too early to say whether this may warrant a re-evaluation of the vaccination policy, but continued close monitoring is essential and the BGS will continually review its position in light of available evidence.