Health Minister Robin Swann opens booster clinics across NI in bid to stop Omicron Covid-19 variant

The Department of Health is opening new Covid vaccination hubs and clinics across NI this week to speed up Covid booster jab delivery as the Omicron variant spreads.

By The Newsroom
Tuesday, 30th November 2021, 12:00 am
Updated Tuesday, 30th November 2021, 8:22 am

The booster jabs are to be offered to everyone aged over-18 in response to concerns about the new variant of coronavirus, the Department of Health at Stormont has confirmed.

The move was recommended by the UK-wide Joint Committee on Immunisations and Vaccinations (JCVI) yesterday.

It advised that boosters should now be offered to everyone aged 18 and over in order of descending age groups, with priority given to older adults and those in Covid-19 at-risk groups.

Retired nurse manager Siobhan Boyle administers a covid vaccine at the Just the Jab pop up vaccination centre at Kinspan Ulster Rugby Stadium in Belfast. Picture date: Saturday November 27, 2021.

Boosters can now be given from three months of completion of the primary course.

Health Minister Robin Swann said in a statement last night: “I very much welcome the JCVI’s guidance, which has been updated in light of the emerging situation with the Omicron variant.

“Our vaccination programme will continue to pull out all the stops to bring booster doses to all eligible age groups as quickly as possible. I would again urge people not to be put off getting their first, second or booster doses due to concerns or speculation about the Omicron variant.

“It remains very likely that vaccination will continue to protect against severe illness from Omicron as it does against other variants of SARS-CoV-2.

“In addition, our vaccines provide very good protection against the Delta variant, which remains the predominant strain in Northern Ireland at this point.”

Health trust vaccination hubs and clinics opening this week will complement the ongoing vaccination work of GPs and local pharmacies to deliver boosters, he said.

In addition, the pharmacy sector is finalising plans for walk-in booster clinics this Saturday and Sunday.

Most trust vaccination hubs and clinics will principally focus on boosters for the over-50s. Anyone in this category should be called by their GP but can also attend community pharmacy or trust centres if they have not yet received their booster.

Trust centres are also providing ongoing first and second doses for all eligible age groups and will open soon to the 40-49 year olds for their booster doses.

People over 50 now have a choice of waiting to be invited in by their GP for their booster, or going to a local pharmacy or the trust centres. Most trust vaccination hubs are offering both walk-in and booked appointments.

Bookings can be made at https://covid-19.hscni.net/get-vaccinated/A and pharmacies offering the booster can be found at www.hscboard.hscni.net/booster-covid19-vaccination/

Trust vaccination clinic details are as follows: Ulster Hospital and Lagan Valley Hospital vaccination centres are open for walk-ins and booking appointments for boosters and first and second doses of Pfizer for all eligible age groups. Clinics will also be held this weekend in Downshire Hospital, Downpatrick.

The Royal Victoria Hospital vaccination centre is open for walk-in vaccinations and bookings between 8.30am and 6pm every day, and Belfast Central Fire Station, Ormeau Avenue, is open on Saturday and Sunday from 10am-6pm.

Rushmere Shopping Centre, Craigavon is open today from 12pm-8pm, and on Thursday and Friday from 2pm-8.30pm.

There is a staff vaccination clinic at St Luke’s Hospital, Armagh tomorrow from 9.30am-5.30pm, and on Saturday from 10am-5pm.

Newry Leisure Centre is open on Thursday from 12pm-8pm, Seagoe Parish Centre, Portadown on Friday from 8.30am-5pm and the Junction, Dungannon on Sunday from 9.30am-5.30pm.

Templemore Sports Complex, Londonderry and the Lakeland Forum, Enniskillen are open from December 1 to December 14, and An Chroi Community Centre, Hillcrest Road, Londonderry is also open.

Omagh Leisure Centre is open December 15 to 21. The Seven Towers Leisure Centre in Ballymena is open this week for bookings only, 9am-5pm, through to Sunday.

All new international arrivals into NI must now self-isolate for 10 days unless they receive a negative test result, with a PCR test to be undertaken on or before day two.

A further four deaths and 1,464 new coronavirus cases were notified by the Department of Health yesterday.