Walk-in Covid boosters now available for over 30s

Covid-19 vaccination boosters are now being made available for the over 30s on a walk-in basis.

The latest acceleration of the Northern Ireland booster programme is being made in light of the expected surge of Omicron variant cases in January.

The number of confirmed Omicron variant cases here has now increased to 10.

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Health Minister Robin Swann announced today (Sunday) that with immediate effect, Health Trust vaccination hubs will be open for walk-in boosters for anyone aged 30 and over who is at least three months from their second vaccine dose.

The vaccination centre at Seven Towers Leisure Centre in Ballymena. Picture: Jonathan Porter/PressEye

Options to further reduce the age range are understood to be under active consideration.

A series of additional initiatives are being finalised to further increase capacity to deliver booster doses.

Trust hubs are extending their opening hours and days of operation with immediate effect and hundreds of additional vaccinators are in the process of being recruited.

The deferral of some planned routine health service activity is also under consideration to free up further capacity.

The Minister said: “The booster programme has been accelerated significantly in recent weeks and vaccination numbers are similar to the peak of the primary dose programme earlier this year.

“Given the scale of the potential threat posed by the Omicron variant, we are taking additional emergency measures to get as many booster doses as possible administered before the end of this month.

“GPs, community pharmacies and Trust hubs will all have a central and vital role in making this happen.

“It is also really important that people who are not yet vaccinated come forward for their first dose without delay. I am really encouraged by the increased number of first doses delivered in recent weeks.”

Mr Swann added: “It must be emphasised that we cannot rely solely on the booster programme to combat Omicron. We all have a vital role to play in not spreading the virus. We need to keep making safer choices in our daily lives and to regularly use lateral flow tests to help protect each other.”

The Department of Health, meanwhile, has urged people are asked to be patient in the event of queues at vaccination centres.