Health Minister Robin Swann has unveiled the latest plans to accelerate the roll-out of COVID vaccine boosters and further increase first dose take-up.
GPs and local pharmacies will continue to play a central role in the vaccination programme, along with a network of Trust vaccination hubs.
Forthcoming vaccination initiatives include:
- A dedicated walk-in clinic weekend for young people on November 27 and 28, providing first doses for 12-17 year olds (see notes below for full details). This will complement the school vaccination programme which is now in its most intensive period.
- A number of pharmacists are planning to provide a weekend of additional walk-in clinics for all those eligible for booster, first and second doses on December 4 and 5. Further details will be announced next week.
- Trust vaccination hubs will be offering first doses for everyone aged 12 and over; as well as booster doses for the 40-49-year-old age group who are at least 6 months from their second dose. These hubs will be rolled out on a phased basis, with two major locations already up and running with immediate effect and others operational across Northern Ireland by late November/start of December.
The two locations already up and running with walk-ins are the vaccination centres at the Ulster Hospital and Royal Victoria Hospital. Online booking will be available later next week.
The Health Minister stated: "I am very pleased to see the roll-out of boosters accelerating. More than 260,000 of our citizens have now had boosters or third doses and this number will continue to climb significantly.
"People are still coming forward for first doses and there are indications that demand for first doses is increasing again. Within the past week alone, community pharmacies administered in the region of 1,000 first doses to people aged 18 and over. The planned programme of additional walk-in clinics will help meet demand for first doses, as well as for boosters.
"Overall, the vaccination programme provided 97,000 jabs in the last week. We owe a great debt of gratitude to everyone involved in making this happen.
"It should be remembered that this vaccination programme is being delivered by a health and social care system experiencing the most sustained and severe pressures in its history."
With 40-49-year-olds now eligible for booster jabs six months after their second dose, a co-ordinated approach has been developed to ensure effective ongoing roll-out of the booster programme.
Booster Doses for Those Aged 50 And Over
GPs and community pharmacies will continue to have the lead role in this age group this month and into December. Those in the 50 plus age group have a choice - get invited in by your GP for your booster or book an appointment through a participating community pharmacy.
A list of pharmacies offering the booster jab is available on the Health and Social Care Board website www.hscboard.hscni.net/booster-covid19-vaccination/
Booster Doses for Other Priority Groups
GPs are also providing boosters for those aged 16 to 49 years with underlying health conditions that put them at higher risk of severe COVID-19.
Adult carers are also eligible for booster jabs and can get them at the participating local pharmacies.
Health Trusts are vaccinating their own eligible employees, while frontline health and social care staff employed by independent sector bodies can get their boosters from local pharmacies.
Booster Doses for 40-49-Year-Olds
Most people in this age group are not currently eligible, as six months has not yet passed since their second dose.
In preparation, Trusts are setting up a network of clinics involving 14 different fixed locations and a number of mobile clinics across Northern Ireland. These will offer walk-in and booked appointments for boosters for 40-49-year-olds, as well as for first and second doses for all eligible age groups. The first two of these centres - the vaccination centres at the Ulster Hospital and RVH - are up and running with walk-ins. Further details of the locations and dates for the other centres will be published next week.
We expect demand for boosters will be high and would ask for the public's patience and support during busy times.
First and Second Doses
A network of community pharmacies continues to provide first dose appointments and some walk-in opportunities. To find your nearest pharmacy go to:
The Trust booster clinics now being rolled out will also provide first and second doses, and Trusts are also continuing to run a series of second dose clinics.
More details on these and on all aspects of the vaccination programme are available on NI Direct: www.nidirect.gov.uk/articles/get-covid-19-vaccination-northern-ireland