There has been one further Covid-related death reported in Northern Ireland in the last 24 hours – the fifth in the last seven days.
According to the official dashboard there were a further 1,138 – down 638 on Monday – positive cases reported in the last 24 hours with 104 in Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon. There were 113 in Newry, Mourne and Down while Mid-Ulster District recorded 93. Belfast had 325 cases in the last 24 hours.
A total of 3,694 individuals were tested in that time.
There are 118 – an increase of nine on yesterday– people in hospitals across Northern Ireland as a result of the virus, six – down one – of whom are in an intensive care unit.
There are 16 – up five – Covid patients in the Southern Trust area, 15 of whom are in Craigavon Area Hospital.
There are currently six ICU beds available in Northern Ireland.
The overall total number of deaths recorded by the Department is 2,164.
The Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council area accounts for 287 deaths overall. Newry, Mourne and Down District accounts for 169 deaths while Mid-Ulster has registered 206 deaths.
Meanwhile, the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine will be offered to some children and young people aged 12 years and over with specific underlying health conditions that put them at risk of serious Covid-19.
Following approval by MHRA for the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine to be used in those aged 12 and over, the JCVI has now updated its advice to enable 12 to 15 year olds with specific underlying health conditions to receive vaccination. This currently includes those with severe neuro-disabilities, Down’s Syndrome, underlying conditions resulting in immunosuppression, and those with profound and multiple learning disabilities, severe learning disabilities or who are on the learning disability register.
Additionally, children and young people aged 12 years and over who live with someone who is immunosuppressed will be offered the opportunity to receive a COVID-19 vaccination. This is on the understanding that the main benefits from vaccination are related to the potential for indirect protection of their household contact who is immunosuppressed. Vaccination will also be offered to those young people who are within three months of their 18th birthday.
The JCVI has also advised young people aged 16 to 17 years of age who are at higher risk of serious COVID-19 should continue to be offered COVID-19 vaccination.
Health Minister Robin Swann, said: “Our vaccination programme has always been guided by the expert advice. The decision by the medicines regulator to approve the Pfizer vaccine for use in this younger age group has only been taken after rigorous assessment of both safety and effectiveness.
“Today’s subsequent announcement by the JCVI underlines the important role that the COVID-19 vaccines play in protecting people of all ages – especially those most at risk from this virus.”
Minister Swann added: “The success of our vaccination programme in Northern Ireland has undoubtedly protected many people from serious illness and saved lives.”
Chief Medical Officer Professor Sir Michael McBride, said: “In taking this decision, the JCVI has carefully examined the risk of COVID-19 to children and young people against the potential benefits of vaccination. While the evidence strongly indicates that almost all children and young people are at very low risk from COVID-19, a small number of children and young people with underlying chronic conditions are at increased risk and will benefit from the protection offered by vaccination.”
Until more data become available, JCVI does not currently advise routine universal vaccination of children and young people less than 18 years of age.
“JCVI will keep this advice under review as more safety and effectiveness information become available on the use of COVID-19 vaccines in children and young people” said Professor Sir Michael McBride.
More details on booking a vaccination appointment will be made available soon. Parent or guardian consent will be required ahead of vaccination.