Expansion of booster programme welcomed

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Health Minister Robin Swann has welcomed the JCVI recommendation to extend the COVID-19 vaccine booster to the 40-49-year-old age group.

The announcement comes with the number of booster/third doses delivered in Northern Ireland having passed the 200,000 mark.

The JCVI has also recommended that 16-and-17 year olds be offered a second vaccination dose.

The Health Minister stated: “Both of today’s recommendations will be implemented in Northern Ireland, in line with our policy of following JCVI guidance.

“I know the expansion of the booster programme will be very welcome news to those in the 40-49-year-old age bracket.

“I am pleased to see our numbers for booster and third doses accelerating. As I have said, I want to see the total climb further and faster.

“I intend to announce very shortly the first in a series of initiatives to complement current vaccination work. These initiatives will include a further programme of walk-in and pop-up clinics – for booster doses, as well as vaccination opportunities for 12-17-year-olds, and for first and second doses generally.

“I would again urge people who have not yet come forward for their first dose to do so without further delay. Vaccination is the most important thing we can do to protect each other and support our health service during what will be an incredibly tough winter.”

Booster doses will inevitably rolled out on a phased basis, given the six month minimum gap between second doses and booster doses. GPs, community pharmacies and Trusts all have key roles in the booster programme. Many people may receive a different vaccine for their booster from their first two doses and can be reassured that this is both appropriate and safe.

In relation to second vaccine doses for 16 and 17 year olds, the JCVI has recommended that these should be given 12 weeks or more following the first vaccine dose.

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