NI’s Chief Medical Officer has emphasised the significant additional protection a vaccine booster dose provides, on top of first and second doses.
Professor Sir Michael McBride said those delaying coming forward for their booster are gambling unnecessarily with their health and the risk of hospitalisation.
“When it comes to vaccination, the message is simple – it takes three for the general 16 plus population, and four if you are immunosuppressed.
“Don’t just rely on the fact that you have already had two doses. Your booster dose provides vital additional protection, particularly against hospitalisation.
“There is a growing body of evidence to support this. For instance, recently published Health Security Agency (UKHSA) analysis indicates that vaccine effectiveness against hospitalisation of older people increases to around 90% two weeks after a booster dose and remains at around that level for over ten weeks. As the JCVI has reported in recent days, the current data shows the booster dose is continuing to provide high levels of protection against severe disease, even for the most vulnerable older age groups.
“I would again appeal particularly to all those aged 50 and over to not delay getting boosted. You are at more risk from COVID-19, compared to younger age groups, and you don’t need to gamble unnecessarily with your health.
“It is again worth highlighting local data on vaccine effectiveness. Recently published NI statistics showed that compared to fully vaccinated individuals who have also received their booster or third dose, unvaccinated individuals age 50 and over are almost 30 times as likely to be admitted to hospital with COVID-19.”
The Chief Medical Officer said NI is now in the midst of the expected Omicron surge, adding: “The impact of the Omicron surge has been blunted by the acceleration of the booster roll-out before Christmas and the actions of everyone.
“We still need more people coming forward for their jabs to keep building up our population’s defences.”
Booster doses are freely available at locations across NI. Anyone aged 16 and over is eligible, provided it is three months since their second dose. This also now applies children aged 12-15 in a clinical risk group who can receive their boosters via a Trust vaccination centre. Anyone who has caught COVID has to wait 28 days after infection - for those under 18 this timescale may vary.
Health Trust vaccination centres, community pharmacies and GPs are all playing a vital part in the big booster push.
For latest opening times and location for Health Trust vaccination clinics, check Trust websites.
Walk-ins are available but if you prefer to book, go to the HSCNI website: https://covid-19.hscni.net/get-vaccinated/
To get instant information on Trust and pharmacy vaccination clinics closest to you, type in your postcode or town at this online location search