Rushmere Shopping Centre in Craigavon will be one of four sites in the Southern Trust area which will offer up booster jabs to the public over the next number of days.
St Luke’s Hospital in Armagh, Newry Leisure Centre, Seagoe Parish Church in Portadown and The Junction in Dungannon will all open its doors as part of a major expansion of NI’s Covid-19 vaccination programme.
Health Minister Robin Swann said it will help meet current and forthcoming demand for booster doses.
The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) today (Tuesday) recommended the phased extension of the booster programme to all adult age groups.
It advised that boosters should now be offered to everyone aged 18 and over in order of descending age groups, with priority given to the vaccination of older adults and those in Covid-19 at-risk groups. Booster vaccination can now be given from three months of completion of the primary course.
The Health Minister stated: “I very much welcome the JCVI’s guidance which has been updated in light of the emerging situation with the Omicron variant.
“Our vaccination programme will continue to pull out all the stops to bring booster doses to all eligible age groups as quickly as possible.
“Our booster programme will now in many ways mirror the primary dose vaccination programme which steadily moved its way down through the different age groups over a number of months.
“We have now delivered more than three million Covid-19 jabs in Northern Ireland in under a year. That is a remarkable achievement by a health system under severe and relentless pressure.”
The Minister continued: “I would again urge people not to be put off getting their first, second or booster doses due to concerns or speculation about the Omicron variant.
“It remains very likely that vaccination will continue to protect against severe illness from Omicron as it does against other variants of SARS-CoV-2.
“In addition, our vaccines provide very good protection against the Delta variant, which remains the predominant strain in Northern Ireland at this point.”
The Minister revealed details of Health Trust vaccination hubs and clinics that are opening this week across Northern Ireland. These will complement the ongoing vaccination work of GPs and local pharmacies, significantly increasing the system’s capacity to deliver boosters.
In addition, the pharmacy sector is finalising plans for a special weekend of additional walk-in booster vaccination clinics this Saturday and Sunday (December 4 and 5).
In the first instance, most Trust vaccination hubs and clinics will principally focus on boosters for the over 50s. Anyone in this category should be called by their GP but can also attend Community Pharmacy or Trust Centres if they have not yet received their booster. Trust centres are also providing ongoing first and second doses for all eligible age groups and will open soon to the 40-49 year olds for their booster doses.
People in the 50 plus age range now have a choice of waiting to be invited in by their GP for their booster, or going to a local pharmacy or the Trust Centres.
The division of roles between the vaccine providers will be kept under ongoing review and is likely to be updated in the coming weeks.
Most Trust vaccination hubs are offering both walk-in and booked appointments.
Bookings can be made online at https://covid-19.hscni.net/get-vaccinated/
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/
The Southern Trust vaccination clinic details are listed below:
Rushmere Shopping Centre, Craigavon – Tuesday 30 November, 12pm-8pm; Thursday 2 December, 2pm – 8.30pm; Friday 3 December, 2pm-8.30pm
Staff Vaccination Clinic, St Luke’s Hospital, Armagh – Wednesday 1 December, 9.30am- 5.30pm; Saturday 4 December, 10am-5pm
Newry Leisure Centre – Thursday 2 December, 12pm – 8pm
Seagoe Parish Centre, Portadown – Friday 3 December, 8.30am-5pm
The Junction, Dungannon – Sunday 5 December, 9.30am-5.30pm
Patricia Donnelly, head of NI’s vaccination programme, said: “We need to make the best use of all our vaccinators across our health and care system, which is why we have to divide up responsibilities at this point. I want to thank all those people who have come forward in the last year to be vaccinators – we need you and ask that you step forward to support us once again in this important expansion of the programme.
“The roll-out of boosters to the entire adult population will be on a staged basis, given the JCVI recommendation and the required gap between second dose and booster.”