Community pharmacy network can help alleviate pressures experienced by GPs
COVID-19 spring booster vaccination to begin in April
The COVID-19 spring booster vaccination programme will get under way in Northern Ireland in the coming days, so the Public Health Agency (PHA) is urging those eligible to get boosted.
People aged 75 years and over, residents in care homes for older people, and those aged 12 years and over with weakened immune systems will be offered a spring booster dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. It is advised that the spring booster should be offered around six months after an individual received their first booster dose.
Dr Jillian Johnston, Joint Interim Assistant Director in Health Protection at the PHA, said: “COVID-19 is more serious in older people and those with a weakened immune system. Protection from the vaccine may be lower and may decline more quickly in these people.
“Although vaccines are expected to provide good protection against severe COVID-19 disease, protection against mild infection with the Omicron variant seems to decline quickly, even after a booster dose, so the additional spring booster will help address this.
“This spring booster is being offered as a precaution to those at extremely high risk, most of whom received their first booster around six months ago. If the number of infections increases over the summer, this booster should help to reduce your risk of being admitted to hospital with COVID-19.”
Spring booster programme arrangements
- Care Homes: the spring booster programme will begin in care homes
from the start of April and community pharmacies will complete this
element of the programme.
- Over 75s: GPs will invite all their eligible patients aged 75 years
or older in for vaccination. In addition to being invited by their own
GP to receive a spring booster, individuals aged over 75 will have the
option to receive their spring booster vaccination via a participating
community pharmacy or at a HSC Trust-led vaccination clinic.
- Vaccination centres: Trusts will continue to run some vaccination centres as well as mobile clinics/pop-up clinics.
- Housebound patients: Trusts (through District Nursing Teams) will continue to vaccinate the eligible housebound patients.
- Immunosuppressed individuals are also eligible for the spring booster but it is likely that many of these individuals will have only recently received their booster dose, 3 months after they had received a 3rd primary dose. These individuals should be offered the booster during the spring campaign providing there is at least three months from the previous dose. Trust clinicians should write to advise their patients of this. GPs should provide a “safety net” service. Practices can offer vaccination to any of their registered patients who meet the criteria as immunosuppressed at patient request or by practice identification.
“COVID-19 has not gone away and we would urge those eligible to come forward for the spring booster when invited,” added Dr Johnston.
Further info at www.pha.site/springbooster.
Find out more on how to get your booster vaccination at www.nidirect.gov.uk/covid-vaccine. Further information
In relation to the spring booster dose, JCVI have advised that this should be offered around six months after an individual received their first booster dose. JCVI have advised that the spring booster dose should be offered to:
- adults aged 75 years and over,
- residents in a care homes, and
- individuals aged 12 years and over who are immunosuppressed, as defined in the Green Book https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-the-green-book-chapter-14a .