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Don’t delay any longer to get your booster jab, Northern Ireland’s vaccination chief warns public

Plea comes as Government rules out any post-Christmas curbs in England


Call: Patricia Donnelly, head of the Covid-19 vaccination programme. Credit: Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye

Call: Patricia Donnelly, head of the Covid-19 vaccination programme. Credit: Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye

Call: Patricia Donnelly, head of the Covid-19 vaccination programme. Credit: Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye

The head of Northern Ireland’s vaccination programme has urged people not to wait any longer for their booster.

Patricia Donnelly said jabs are available at a series of vaccination clinics running this week.

She expressed concern that some had put off getting their dose until after Christmas.

It came as the Government ruled out further coronavirus restrictions being introduced in England before the new year after ministers reviewed the latest data.

Health Secretary Sajid Javid said “people should remain cautious” and urged those marking the start of 2022 to consider testing themselves beforehand and to celebrate outside, with the Omicron variant growing so fast that it accounts for 90% of all new Covid-19 cases.

The decision not to impose restrictions beyond the Plan B measures already in place in England comes after Prime Minister Boris Johnson was briefed on the impact Christmas mixing had had on coronavirus infections and hospital admissions.

Mr Javid said: “We look at the data on a daily basis — that hasn’t changed over the Christmas period. But there will be no further measures before the new year. Of course, people should remain cautious as we approach New Year’s celebrations.

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“Take a lateral flow test if that makes sense, celebrate outside if you can, have some ventilation if you can. Please remain cautious and when we get into the new year, of course, we will see then whether we do need to take any further measures, but nothing more until then, at least.”

The Health Secretary’s comments came after Mr Johnson had spoken with England’s chief medical officer, Professor Chris Whitty, and chief scientific adviser, Sir Patrick Vallance.

Government data shows that a record 113,628 cases were recorded in England on Christmas Day, although the highest number by specimen date — marking when the test was taken — was December 22, when 121,539 people took a test which gave a positive result.

It means the final UK figure for reported cases on Christmas Day is likely to be higher still as the data published on Monday is incomplete due to holidays, and does not include any data for Northern Ireland or Scotland.

The decision not to impose post-Christmas curbs on socialising puts England at odds with other parts of the UK, where post-Christmas restrictions have been deployed.

In Northern Ireland, nightclubs have been closed with hospitality venues returning to table service only.

It comes as a fresh plea was issued for people here to get their booster jab.

Ms Donnelly said: “Our great vaccination teams will be hard at work once again this week, providing boosters to as many people as possible.

“There are so many opportunities across Northern Ireland for people to get their booster dose before the start of the New Year.

“I know some people had been putting it off until after Christmas and I would appeal to them to delay no further.

“We are facing a very serious threat from Covid-19 and getting boosted is the single most important thing you can do to protect yourself.”

She added: “The Health Trust vaccination centres are also continuing to offer first doses to people aged 12 and over. Young people can therefore get their jab before the end of the school holidays.

“People aged 18 and over are also still coming forward for their first jabs.

“To those not yet vaccinated, my same plea applies — please don’t delay any further.”

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