Jabs available for people who aren’t yet 18 as number with two doses nears 1m
Covid-19 vaccines are now available at mass vaccination centres to people who are approaching their 18th birthday.
Those turning 18 on or before October 31 are now included in the eligible population as health bosses continue their efforts to increase the number of people protected from the virus.
They can avail of the walk-in facilities at the vaccination centres, or if they wish to book an appointment, the online system is available from today.
The move follows the announcement on Monday of new guidance from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation that the Pfizer-BioNTech jab will be offered to some young people aged 12 and over, including anyone over 12 who lives with a person who is immunosuppressed.
Letters will be sent out by GPs to inform families of eligible children. People have been asked to wait for contact from the surgeries.
A timescale for this phase of the programme is not yet known.
Arrangements for the vaccination of children aged between 12 and 15 with specific underlying health conditions are also being finalised and will be announced shortly. In the meantime, health officials have asked that parents do not bring their children under 16 to vaccination centres until this is announced.
This group currently includes those with severe neuro-disabilities, Down’s syndrome, underlying conditions resulting in immunosuppression, and those with profound and multiple learning disabilities, and severe learning disabilities.
Meanwhile, Northern Ireland is likely to have vaccinated more than one million people with two doses of the vaccine within the coming days. According to official figures, 995,493 people have had two jabs.
Almost 57% of the 18 to 29-year-old cohort have had one dose, while just under 70% of all 30 to 39-year-olds have had one also.
When it comes to the full vaccination of younger age groups, the official figures show considerable work is still required.
Only 28% of those aged 18 to 29 have had two doses, while 41% aged between 30 and 39 have had two doses, although the walk-in and mobile clinics are believed to be playing a significant part in encouraging young people to come forward.
Details of the next stage of the vaccination programme came as the Covid-related deaths of two more people, both aged 80 and over, were announced. A further 1,973 cases were recorded yesterday, with a seven-day case rate of 9,088. Of these, 725 were in people aged 60 and over, while the case rate in younger people is continuing to climb.
Over the past week, 2,316 children and teenagers have tested positive — up from 1,119 in the previous seven-day period.
The seven-day case rate in the 20 to 39-year-old cohort more than doubled, up from 1,800 to 4,248 yesterday, while it stood at 1,796 in the 40 to 59-year-old cohort, up from 791.
Elsewhere deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill said she received assurances from Taoiseach Micheal Martin that proof of Covid vaccination will be recognised on an island-wide basis.
She said: “I am glad to have received positive assurances from An Taoiseach that a solution will be found in advance of indoor hospitality reopening on July 26, which requires proof of vaccination to access. Many families across the island are choosing to stay at home this year and holiday in Ireland, I want to ensure those from the north who are holidaying in the south can also enjoy a meal or drink indoors.”