Fourth Covid vaccine likely to be offered to certain groups in Northern Ireland

Fourth Covid vaccine likely to be offered to certain groups in Northern Ireland

CERTAIN GROUPS of people are in Northern Ireland are likely to be offered further Covid-19 vaccinations this autumn, a chief scientific advisor has said.

Speaking on BBC New's NI Talkback programme, Prof Ian Young said it would apply to vulnerable people and those aged over 65, with offers also being extended to health and social care workers.

The most recent population survey estimated that one in 25 people in Northern Ireland had Covid.

Prof Young said that past vaccines continued to provide protection against severe illness, but that new variants ba4 and ba5 mean that people can be re-infected even if they have been vaccinated.

"Unfortunately, however, with the new variant, ba4 and ba5, people can become re-infected with those, even when they've been vaccinated," he said.

"Therefore, it's likely that we will offer updated vaccination, certainly to older people and those who might be considered vulnerable as we move into the autumn, just as we offer flu vaccines to those groups every year."

"At the moment the forms of Covid that are circulating cause relatively mild illness in general in younger people," Prof Young said.

"So balancing everything up we don't think it will be necessary to offer otherwise healthy people an additional booster vaccination."

He also said "people are working hard in terms of developing and modifying the vaccines so that they provide better protection against these variants and future variants".

Prof Young said: "At the moment I think we are close to the peak of another wave of Covid caused principally by the ba4 and ba5 variants.

"One person in 25 was infected during the week in the course of the most recent population survey which typically lags one or two weeks behind where we are."

Prof Young said while upcoming events such as the Twelfth of July and Pride parades were coming up, the risk of transmission outside remains low.