The Department of Health has set out the different components of the winter vaccination drive across Northern Ireland.

The flu vaccination programme is now underway, while Covid vaccination is also ongoing, including the booster programme.

Work to bring the Covid vaccines, Covid vaccine boosters and flu jabs to eligible members of the community includes:

* Covid vaccine booster jabs: As with the original vaccination programme itself, the booster programme has started with care homes and frontline health and social care workers.

In line with the advice from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation, everyone aged 50 and over will be eligible for a booster jab, once six months has passed from their second Covid vaccine dose.

Eligibility also covers those aged 16 to 49 years with underlying health conditions that put them at higher risk of severe Covid-19, adult carers and adult household contacts of immunosuppressed individuals.

The booster programme will primarily be delivered by GPs and community pharmacies.  Trusts are vaccinating care home residents and their own frontline staff while community pharmacies will initially be vaccinating non-Trust employed frontline health care staff before moving on to the general public.

GPs will be starting to invite those patients who are now beyond the six month period from their second dose to receive their booster. GPs have the option of providing Covid booster and flu jabs together or separately.

Covid vaccination for 12-15-year-olds: A single vaccine dose is being offered to 12-15-year-olds. This will principally be done through school vaccination visits in October and November. Consent forms will be sent home to parents.

In addition to the school-based programme, other opportunities for 12-15-year-olds to get the jab are planned for later this month.

Advice for young people and parents on Covid vaccination is available here:

Covid vaccination for 16-17-year-olds: A single vaccine dose is continuing to be offered to 16-17-year-olds. They can get their jabs at any of the Trust second dose walk-in clinics being held at various locations across NI. Details of locations can be found at NI Direct.

First dose Covid vaccination for 18 plus age group: It is never too late to take up the opportunity to get vaccinated in order to protect yourself and those around you.  More than 130 local pharmacies are now offering Covid-19 vaccination by appointment to anyone who has not yet been vaccinated. For more details on participating pharmacies offering vaccine appointments in your area, visit NI Direct. or check out this interactive map:

Second dose Covid vaccination for 18 plus age group: Health Trusts are providing walk-in clinics at different locations for people to get their second Covid-19 doses. Details of locations can be found at NI Direct.

Third dose Covid vaccination for people who are severely immunosuppressed:

People eligible under this category have been identified by Trusts or GP and invited by letter to book their third jab.

*Flu jab roll out: Those eligible for the 2021/22 winter flu vaccine in NI are listed below. GPs will have a central role in offering flu vaccination to eligible patients in a rolling programme. To encourage take-up, community pharmacies will offer an additional route to vaccination for all health and social care workers and for all those aged 50.

School vaccinator teams will bring the winter flu vaccine to schools, while Trust Occupational Health teams will again be busy vaccinating Trust employees.

Eligible groups for winter flu vaccine:

• all preschool children aged 2 to 4 years on 1 September 2021

• all primary and secondary (up to year 12) school children

• those aged 6 months to 2 years and 16 to 49 years in clinical risk groups

• pregnant women

• those aged 50 years and over

• those in long-stay residential care homes

• carers

• close contacts of immunocompromised individuals

Frontline health and social care workers employed by:

• Health and Social Care Trusts including NIAS

• community HSC providers including GP practices, pharmacies, dentists

• registered independent sector residential care or nursing home

• registered domiciliary care providers

• voluntary managed hospice provider

Source: Photo by CDC on Unsplash

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