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Northern Ireland health service ‘pulling out all the stops’ to match England’s goal to provide Covid booster for all over 18s amid Omicron ‘tidal wave’


Robin Swann has extended walk-in boosters to people aged 30 and over

Robin Swann has extended walk-in boosters to people aged 30 and over

Robin Swann has extended walk-in boosters to people aged 30 and over

Health Minister Robin Swann has vowed to match England’s target of rolling out the booster vaccine to all over 18s by the end of the year.

In an address from Downing Street, Boris Johnson said: "We're now facing an emergency in our battle with the new variant, Omicron.

"We must urgently reinforce our wall of vaccine protection to keep our friends and loved ones safe."

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The prime minister said that all eligible adults over 18 will be offered a Covid booster jab before the end of the year, provided it is three months since their second dose.

It brings the previous target forward by a month.

Robin Swann tweeted shortly after the address: “As planning and meetings continue Northern Ireland’s health service will & are pulling out all the stops to match the booster roll-out target just announced for England by the PM. First & seconds jabs still available & still important!”

This comes after an earlier announcement that vaccination hubs will now be open for walk-in boosters for anyone aged 30 and over who is at least three months from their second vaccine dose.

On Sunday it was revealed that the number of confirmed Omicron variant cases in NI has now increased to 10.

New initiatives have been taken in light of the expected surge of Omicron variant cases in Northern Ireland in January.

In order to further increase capacity to deliver booster doses, Trust hubs are now extending their opening hours and days of operation with immediate effect.

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.

Mr Swann 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.”

The Health Minister added that the public cannot rely solely on the booster programme to combat Omicron.

“We all have a vital role to play in not spreading the virus,” he said.

“We need to keep making safer choices in our daily lives and to regularly use lateral flow tests to help protect each other.”

People are asked to be patient in the event of queues at vaccination centres.

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