The DUP has been accused of sending mixed messages, but Sir Jeffrey insisted his party’s position is clear – to follow public health advice and to encourage others to do so.
Sir Jeffrey told reporters during a visit to the Greater Shankill Community Council in west Belfast: “I am very clear what the DUP’s position is on this: We encourage people to wear face coverings.
“I have been in meetings today, I have been wearing my face covering in all of those meetings, and when I engage with others. We encourage people to go and have their vaccination, get their booster.
“It’s important that we all play our part, whether that’s in the public messaging or following the public health guidance that is there to help all of us, and that is what we must be doing and that is what the DUP will be focused on.
“I will be speaking to my colleagues. I am very clear, I want all of my colleagues to follow the guidance, the public health advice and to encourage others to do likewise.”
Sir Jeffrey added: “We don’t yet know enough about the Omicron variant to be sure what it means. Yes, we have heard from the World Health Organisation that it may be a milder variant, but it affects people in different ways – people with underlying medical conditions can be impacted very seriously by Covid, and therefore we need to understand better what this variant means, and it is vital that we continue to follow the public health guidance.
“This is crucially important and I am clear, as leader of the DUP, we support the public health guidance, we want people to follow that public health guidance. We want people to get their vaccinations.”
Meanwhile, nine out of 10 adults in Northern Ireland have now received at least one Covid-19 vaccination, the Department of Health has said.
In total, 3,068,005 jabs have been delivered since the vaccination programme began just under a year ago. In addition, the number of booster jabs given out has passed the 400,000 mark.
Health Minister Robin Swann said: “A vaccination roll-out of this magnitude would be impressive at any time. To achieve it during the worst crisis in our health service’s history is nothing short of remarkable.”
The minister added: “I very much welcome the landmark of 90% for people 18 and over receiving at least one jab.”
Given the continued high prevalence of Covid-19 in our community, he said, it is essential that we maintain momentum in the booster and wider vaccination programme.
“This is the single best thing we can do to support our health service.”
This weekend, 50 community pharmacies across NI are hosting clinics to give the booster vaccination. This will be in addition to health trust hubs, trust walk-in clinics, pharmacies and GPs.
Boosters are being offered to people aged 50 and over who had their second dose at least three months ago, and to 40- to 49-year-olds who had their second dose at least six months ago. This weekend’s pharmacy clinics will offer first and second doses as well as boosters.