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Covid-19 spring booster: who is eligible and how to get it

The over 75s and other eligible individuals across Northern Ireland are soon to be invited for their Covid-19 spring booster.

The spring booster vaccination programme will get under way in the coming days, with the Public Health Agency (PHA) urging those eligible to take up the opportunity.

People aged 75 years and over, residents in care homes for older people, and those aged 12 years and over with weakened immune systems will be offered a spring booster dose of vaccine.

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It is advised that the spring booster should be offered around six months after an individual received their first booster dose.

The Covid-19 Northern Ireland spring booster programme will begin in April. Picture: Leon Neal - WPA Pool/Getty Images

Dr Jillian Johnston, Joint Interim Assistant Director in Health Protection at the PHA, said: “Covid-19 is more serious in older people and those with a weakened immune system. Protection from the vaccine may be lower and may decline more quickly in these people.

“Although vaccines are expected to provide good protection against severe COVID-19 disease, protection against mild infection with the Omicron variant seems to decline quickly, even after a booster dose, so the additional spring booster will help address this.

“This spring booster is being offered as a precaution to those at extremely high risk, most of whom received their first booster around six months ago. If the number of infections increases over the summer, this booster should help to reduce your risk of being admitted to hospital with Covid-19.”

What are the spring booster programme arrangements?

Care homes:

The spring booster programme will begin in care homes from the start of April and community pharmacies will complete this element of the programme.

Over 75s:

GPs will invite all their eligible patients aged 75 years or older in for vaccination. In addition to being invited by their own GP to receive a spring booster, individuals aged over 75 will have the option to receive their spring booster vaccination via a participating community pharmacy or at a HSC Trust-led vaccination clinic.

Vaccination centres:

Trusts will continue to run some vaccination centres as well as mobile clinics / pop-up clinics.

Housebound patients:

Trusts (through District Nursing Teams) will continue to vaccinate the eligible housebound patients.

Immunosuppressed individuals are also eligible for the spring booster but it is likely that many of these individuals will have only recently received their booster dose, three months after they had received a third primary dose.

These individuals should be offered the booster during the spring campaign providing there is at least three months from the previous dose. Trust clinicians should write to advise their patients of this and GPs should provide a “safety net” service. Practices can offer vaccination to any of their registered patients who meet the criteria as immunosuppressed at patient request or by practice identification.

“Covid-19 has not gone away and we would urge those eligible to come forward for the spring booster when invited,” added Dr Johnston.

More information can be found at www.pha.site/springbooster.

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