Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation

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Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation
Agency overview
Formed1963 (1963)
Jurisdiction England, Wales, and Scotland
Agency executive

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) is an independent expert advisory committee that advises United Kingdom health departments on immunisation, making recommendations concerning vaccination schedules and vaccine safety. It has a statutory role in England and Wales, and health departments in Scotland and Northern Ireland may choose to accept its advice.



The committee was established in 1963, having been until then an advisory board for polio immunisation. [1] It gained statutory status as the Standing Advisory Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation, a non-departmental public body [2] advising the Secretary of State for Social Services and the Secretary of State for Wales, under the National Health Service (Standing Advisory Committees) Order 1981. [3]

Since the devolution of government powers to Wales, the JCVI continues to advise Welsh ministers. [1] For England, the Health Protection (Vaccination) Regulations 2009 require the Secretary of State for Health to implement the committee's recommendations regarding national immunisation programmes. [2] The committee has no statutory role in Scotland or Northern Ireland, [1] although the Scottish Parliament takes JCVI advice because it has not formed an alternative body. In 2015 a petition was presented to the Scottish Parliament to depart from JCVI advice because the petitioner felt that the chair of the JCVI was not observing the Nolan Principles. [4] Petitioner had contacted Nicola Sturgeon during her time as Health Minister, and nine years later had decided to petition as a last resort for his proposal to form a body "similar if not the same as Norway's model". [5]

Following the government's review of public bodies that completed in 2012, the JCVI was reconstituted as a departmental expert committee, although its statutory status under the 1981 order continues. [6]

Roles and responsibilities

The JCVI has a responsibility to provide high quality and considered advice and recommendations to the UK Health Ministers. This includes giving advice on recommendations on matters of both a 'routine' nature and also on any specific or special matters that Ministers may request. In formulating any advice and recommendations, the Committee must take into account the need for and impact of vaccines, the quality of vaccines and the strategies to ensure that their greatest benefit to the public health can be obtained from the most appropriate use of vaccines.[ citation needed ]

JCVI members meet and report as one Committee, usually three times a year. Its recommendations, as accepted by the Secretaries of State, are published in "Immunisation against infectious diseases", commonly referred to as "the Green Book" which provides guidance to clinicians, [1] and also through other routes as necessary (e.g., the Chief Medical Officer letters). [7]


In June 2018, the JCVI chair was Professor Andrew Pollard of the Oxford Vaccine Group in the Department of Paediatrics at the University of Oxford. [7]

The chair of the COVID-19 subcommittee is Wei Shen Lim, a consultant respiratory physician and honorary professor of medicine at Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust. [8]

The current members' names and affiliations are published online [7] although year of appointment is not stated. According to the published code of practice, [1] appointments are normally of three years' duration. In accordance with the Code of Practice issued by the Commissioner for Public Appointments, members cannot serve on the Committee for more than 10 years.

A previous chairman, Andrew Hall, was appointed Knight Bachelor in the 2013 Birthday Honours. [9]

Notable work

Position on MMR (1988 onwards)

The JCVI "expressed concern" about giving triple vaccines to children with a personal or family history of convulsions, but considered it appropriate to proceed with a planned introduction of the MMR vaccine in October 1988, including two products containing Urabe strain. After the start of the mass MMR immunisation programme, additional evidence that the strain was linked with viral meningitis surfaced in a number of countries, and by 1990, many had withdrawn products containing it. [10] In November 1992, it was withdrawn in the UK, following the publication of government-sponsored research which confirmed a high incidence of transitory mild meningitis. [11] Since that time, government agencies have acted to prevent the importation of single vaccines containing this strain. [12]

In late 2000, Andrew Wakefield published what he said were his concerns in the journal Adverse Drug Reactions and Toxicological Reviews , based on his interpretation of early studies of MMR none of which were actually critical of the vaccine. The article was reviewed in January 2001 by the JCVI, which unequivocally rejected Wakefield's claims, with government agencies publishing a detailed rebuttal. [13] In 2010, Wakefield was struck off by the General Medical Council for fabrication of results and failure to declare a financial interest in the importation of single strain vaccines. [14]

Position on thimerosal (2001)

As is the case in the United States and many other countries, the mercury-based additive thimerosal, previously thought necessary for multi-dose vials of vaccines such as the DPT shot, has largely been phased out. According to the JCVI, it has been shown that the amount of mercury in the blood of children receiving thimerosal-containing vaccines is well below levels that may be "associated with any toxic effects." Reports reviewed by the JCVI contended that mercury exposure in the UK immunisation programme was low. However, in 2001, JCVI endorsed recommendations to remove the preservative, stating: "even though there is no evidence of toxicity, as a precautionary measure, thiomersal should be phased out over time...". [15]

COVID-19 vaccines (2020–21)

During the COVID-19 pandemic, in autumn 2020 the committee gave advice to the recently formed Vaccine Taskforce on the groups of people that should be prioritised for vaccination, giving regard to health inequalities. [16] [17] Their advice was refined in December of that year. [18]

On 6 April 2021, Maggie Wearmouth of the JCVI said "in a personal capacity" that the vaccine roll-out should be slowed "in younger people" to maintain public trust and confidence, after the committee had discussed concerns over a possible link between the Oxford–AstraZeneca vaccine and a rare type of blood clot. [19]

The next day in a press conference, the JCVI stated that it "believes healthy young people aged 18 to 29 should be offered the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccines instead of the AstraZeneca jab" because of the risk of CVST blood clots. [20] The press conference was offered by the "chair of the JCVI" (sic) Wei Shen, who said "every country has to take their own decision based on their own population, the scale of the pandemic, the values of its people and the quantity of vaccines." The JCVI had judged safety evidence from the MHRA and Public Health England in coming to its decision. Adam Finn, a member of the JCVI, said on BBC Breakfast that "it was possible doses of the Moderna jab could be reserved for young people... We are seeing another vaccine coming in (Moderna), and further vaccines are approaching licensure, and I know that the UK has made contracts for quite a wide range of different vaccines. As time goes forward we will have much more flexibility about who can be offered what." [21]

The updated advice from the JCVI was published on 13 April, stating "it is preferable for adults aged 18 to 29 years without underlying health conditions that put them at higher risk of severe COVID-19 disease, to be offered an alternative to the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine, if available". [22] On 7 May the applicable age range was extended to 18–39. [23]

For young people

In late July 2021, the JCVI advised that all 16- and 17-year-olds should be given a first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, with advice on a second dose expected to be given in the future; this advice was published by the government on 4 August. [24] Two doses were already available for certain at-risk people aged 16 and over. Those aged 12 to 15 with specific underlying health conditions were already eligible for two doses of the same vaccine, and the new advice extended this to children who are household contacts of immunosuppressed people. [25]

Some medical commentators raised concerns that the committee had not taken into account all risks to children, particularly long COVID, and pointed out that other countries – including the United States – were vaccinating everyone aged 12 and over. [26]

See also

Related Research Articles

MMR vaccine Any of several combined vaccines against measles, mumps, and rubella

The MMR vaccine is a vaccine against measles, mumps, and rubella. The first dose is generally given to children around 9 months to 15 months of age, with a second dose at 15 months to 6 years of age, with at least 4 weeks between the doses. After two doses, 97% of people are protected against measles, 88% against mumps, and at least 97% against rubella. The vaccine is also recommended for those who do not have evidence of immunity, those with well-controlled HIV/AIDS, and within 72 hours of exposure to measles among those who are incompletely immunized. It is given by injection.

Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency Medicine regulation agency in the UK

The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) is an executive agency of the Department of Health and Social Care in the United Kingdom which is responsible for ensuring that medicines and medical devices work and are acceptably safe.

The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) is the medicine and therapeutic regulatory agency of the Australian Government. As part of the Department of Health, the TGA regulates the quality, supply and advertising of medicines, pathology devices, medical devices, blood products and most other therapeutics. Any items that claim to have a therapeutic effect, are involved in the administration of medication, or are otherwise covered by the Therapeutic Goods Act 1989, the Therapeutic Goods Regulations 1990, or a ministerial order, must be approved by the TGA and registered in the Australian Register of Therapeutic Goods.

National Immunization Technical Advisory Group (NITAG) is an advisory committee consisting of multidisciplinary groups of experts responsible for providing information to national governments that is used to make evidence-based decisions regarding vaccine and immunization policy. The majority of industrialized and some developing countries have formally established advisory committees to guide immunization policies; other countries are working towards establishment of such committees. NITAG in each country may have different names, for example: Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) in the United States, Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) in Australia, Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) in the United Kingdom, National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) in Canada, National Immunisation Advisory Committee (NIAC) in Ireland, National Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (NTAGI) in India, Standing Committee on Vaccination in Germany, and Technical Committee of Vaccination in France.

Oxford–AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine Viral vector vaccine for prevention of COVID-19 by Oxford University and AstraZeneca

The Oxford–AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine, codenamed AZD1222, and sold under the brand names Covishield and Vaxzevria among others, is a viral vector vaccine for prevention of COVID-19. Developed in the United Kingdom by the Oxford University and British-Swedish company AstraZeneca, using as a vector the modified chimpanzee adenovirus ChAdOx1. The vaccine is given by intramuscular injection. Studies carried out in 2020 showed that the efficacy of the vaccine is 76.0% at preventing symptomatic COVID-19 beginning at 22 days following the first dose, and 81.3% after the second dose. A study in Scotland found that, for symptomatic COVID-19 infection after the second dose, the vaccine is 81% effective against the Alpha variant, and 61% against the Delta variant.

COVID-19 vaccination in the United Kingdom Immunisation against COVID-19

The COVID-19 vaccination programme in the United Kingdom is an ongoing mass immunisation campaign for coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) during the COVID-19 pandemic in the United Kingdom. The UK's vaccination rollout was the world's first mass immunisation programme for the disease when it began on 8 December 2020 after Margaret Keenan received her first dose of two. As of 6 October 2021, 49,068,705 first doses and 45,078,529 second doses of a vaccine had been administered across the UK.

COVID-19 vaccination in Australia Ongoing COVID-19 vaccine program in Australia

The general COVID-19 vaccination in Australia program began on 22 February 2021 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and will continue with the goal of vaccinating all willing Australians before 2022. Front-line workers and aged care staff and residents will be the first Australians to be inoculated, before a gradual phased release to less-vulnerable and lower-risk population groups throughout 2021. The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) approved four vaccines for Australian use in 2021: the Pfizer–BioNTech vaccine on 25 January, the Oxford–AstraZeneca vaccine on 16 February, Janssen vaccine on 25 June and the Moderna vaccine on 9 August. Although approved for use, the Janssen vaccine is not included in the Australian vaccination program.

European Commission–AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine dispute Dispute between the European Union and AstraZeneca

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COVID-19 vaccination in Romania started on 27 December 2020. It was announced that the process would be divided into three phases. Medical personnel would be vaccinated first, followed by the population at risk, and finally by the rest of the population. Vaccination was declared free and non-mandatory. As of May 2021, four types of vaccines were authorized to be used in Romania. This is the largest vaccination campaign in the modern history of Romania.

COVID-19 vaccination in the Republic of Ireland Immunisation plan against COVID-19

The COVID-19 vaccination programme in the Republic of Ireland is an ongoing mass immunisation campaign that began on 29 December 2020 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic in the Republic of Ireland. Ireland's vaccination rollout has been praised as one of the most successful rollouts in the world and was ranked number one in the European Union in terms of its percentage of adult population fully vaccinated.

COVID-19 vaccination in Canada COVID-19 vaccination programme in Canada

COVID-19 vaccination in Canada is an ongoing, intergovernmental effort coordinated between the bodies responsible in the Government of Canada to acquire and distribute vaccines to individual provincial and territorial governments who in turn administer authorized COVID-19 vaccines during the COVID-19 pandemic in Canada. Provinces have worked with local municipal governments, hospital systems, family doctors and independently owned pharmacies to aid in part, or in full with vaccination rollout. The vaccination effort in full is the largest such immunization effort in the nation's history. The vaccination effort began December 14, 2020 and is currently ongoing.

COVID-19 vaccination in Malaysia

The National COVID-19 Immunisation Programme, abbreviated as NIP or PICK, is a national vaccination campaign that is currently being implemented by the Malaysian government as an approach in curbing the spread of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) and to end the COVID-19 pandemic in Malaysia by successfully achieving the highest immunisation rate among its citizens and non-citizens that are residing in Malaysia. It is the largest immunisation programme implemented in the history of the country and it is being administrated by The Special Committee For Ensuring Access To COVID-19 Vaccine Supply (JKJAV) since early 2021.

The COVID-19 vaccination program in Colombia is an ongoing effort of mass immunization put in place by the Colombian government in order to respond to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The COVID-19 virus was confirmed to have reached Colombia on 6 March 2020. Colombia's preparation and readiness for a vaccine program allowed it to join the first group of countries who received vaccines through COVAX. The first vaccine in Colombia was given to a nurse on 17 February 2021.

The National Advisory Committee on Immunization is an advisory body that provides the Government of Canada with medical and scientific advice relating to human immunization.

Shelley Deeks is a Canadian public health expert who is the Chair of the National Advisory Committee on Immunization. Her advertised "specialities include communicable disease control, outbreak investigations, vaccine safety, epidemiology and program evaluation." She is a fellow of the Royal College of Physicians of Canada and the Australian Faculty of Public Health Medicine.

Embolic and thrombotic events after COVID-19 vaccination Post vaccination adverse effects

Post-vaccination embolic and thrombotic events, also termed vaccine-induced prothrombotic immune thrombocytopenia (VIPIT), vaccine-induced immune thrombotic thrombocytopenia (VITT), or thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome (TTS) are rare types of blood clotting syndromes that were initially observed in a number of people who had previously received the Oxford–AstraZeneca COVID‑19 vaccine (AZD1222) during the COVID‑19 pandemic. It was subsequently also described in the Janssen COVID‑19 vaccine leading to suspension of its use until its safety had been reassessed.

Vaccination in Mexico includes the use of vaccines in advancing public health. Mexico has a multi-year program for immunisation of children. The immunisation of children is fully covered by the government of Mexico. Mexico has an adverse events committee to monitor the adverse effects of vaccination as well as a standing technical advisory group on immunization.

The Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) is a technical advisory group of the Australian Government. As part of the Department of Health, ATAGI provides advice to the Minister of Health on the immunisation program of Australia and related matters, including the strength of evidence pertaining to existing, new, and emerging vaccines.

The COVID-19 vaccination campaign in Quebec is an ongoing provincial effort to distribute and administer the vaccine against COVID-19.

COVID-19 vaccination in Germany

The COVID-19 vaccination campaign in Germany began on 26 December 2020. As of 19 September 2021, 55,869,314 people have received at least one dose, while 52,503,166 people have been fully vaccinated.


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