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Covid-19: Everyone over age of 50 in Northern Ireland to be offered booster jab and flu vaccine this autumn


File photo of Covid-19 jab

File photo of Covid-19 jab

File photo of Covid-19 jab

Everyone over the age of 50 in Northern Ireland will be offered a flu vaccine and Covid-19 booster jab this autumn.

Health Minister Robin Swann said the measure was precautionary given the likely increase in infection as we enter the winter months.

On Wednesday, the minister revealed lateral flow testing for those with Covid-19 symptoms in Northern Ireland is to continue into August, citing the rising level of cases of the virus both in NI and the UK as a whole. 

As well as those in that age category, influenza vaccines will be offered to a range of pre-school and school age children, those in clinically at risk groups, pregnant women, carers and close contacts of immunocompromised individuals.

Some frontline health and social care workers employed will also be offered the jabs.

The Government’s Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) advised there should be alignment in age for both the Covid and flu vaccinations for 2022.

“With both vaccines being made available to everyone aged 50 and over, as well as those in a clinical risk group aged 49 years and under, all people in Northern Ireland at greatest risk from flu or COVID will be eligible for vaccines protecting them against both winter respiratory viruses,” Mr Swann said.

“We must do all we can to reduce preventable death and serious illness caused by flu. Ensuring that as many eligible people as possible come forward and receive both their flu and Covid-19 vaccinations when invited to do so will be critical to protect individuals, communities and our health and social care services this winter.

“There will be a significant challenge involved in delivering the flu programme to tens of thousands of children and adults over a short period.

“But I know that our hardworking and dedicated teams in GP surgeries, community pharmacies, Health and Social Care Trusts, the Public Health Agency, Regional Pharmacy and Regional Supply will once again step up to ensure that as many people as possible receive the jab.

“Getting vaccinated when you are invited to do so is a decision we can all take to protect ourselves and our families and continue to keep each other safe.”

The Department of Health said secondary school pupils between years 8 and 12 who were included in the annual influenza programme for the first time last year, will also be offered the flu jab again this autumn.

Chief Medical Officer Professor Sir Michael McBride added: “It’s clear there are a number of factors combining to make the 2022/23 winter season particularly challenging.

“There is likely to be a winter Covid-19 surge, although at this stage we do not yet know how severe that may be.

“Monitoring the data from Australia now, we expect that we could also see much higher flu activity and we will have both coronavirus and flu circulating at the same time during winter when they pose the greatest threat.

“With the ending of Covid restrictions and interactions returning to a more normal level the return of influenza and other respiratory viruses this winter is anticipated. Influenza vaccination is therefore an important priority this coming autumn to reduce the risk of serious illness and death associated with flu.”

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