Northern Ireland’s Chief Medical Officer has urged those who have not yet had their Covid-19 booster jab that they are gambling unnecessarily with their health.
Sir Michael McBride appealed particularly to those aged 50 and over not to delay getting the latest dose of the vaccination amid soaring cases of the Omicron variant.
More than 7,000 further confirmed cases of the virus were notified over the weekend.
A further seven deaths of patients who had previously tested positive for Covid-19 were also notified.
“When it comes to vaccination, the message is simple – it takes three for the general 16 plus population, and four if you are immunosuppressed,” he said.
“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 10 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.”
Sir Michael said those aged 50 and over were almost 30 times more likely to be admitted to hospital with Covid-19.
“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,” he said.
“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 the impact of Omicron has been “blunted” by the rollout of the booster vaccination programme in recent weeks.
However, he added: “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 Northern Ireland.
Anyone aged 16 and over is eligible provided it is three months since their second dose. This also applies to 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.
The jab is available at Health Trust vaccination centres, community pharmacies and GPs.
For more details click here.
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