Island residents are being urged to come forward for their booster vaccine when invited to boost their immunity ahead of the winter season.
The COVID-19 booster vaccine is being offered to those who were in priority groups 1 – 9 in the initial rollout (adults aged 50 and over and the most vulnerable) to provide them with increased protection from the virus. As with other vaccines, immunity starts to decline after around six months so it is important to have the booster to help extend protection against the virus.
So far, more than 11,000 COVID-19 booster vaccines have gone into the arms of Isle of Man residents, meaning nearly 24% of those eligible for the top-up jab have boosted their immunity to the virus.
The milestone comes as the rollout continues, with a booster dose having so far been offered to all health and care staff, nearly all adults living in a residential care home, and many elderly and vulnerable residents.
Invitations to all those aged 70 and over - who had their second jab at least six months ago and whose GPs are not giving boosters - have now been sent. GP practices taking part in the booster programme are in the process of inviting patients in this cohort to have their booster jab in the surgery.
Lawrie Hooper MHK, Minister for Health and Social Care said:
’Passing the 10,000 milestone for booster jabs is great news and shows we are making steady progress since the rollout began last month. Vaccinations have weakened the link between COVID-19 cases and hospitalisation and deaths, but we can’t let our guard down. The pandemic is not over.
‘Booster vaccinations are vital to build up and maintain our defences – to help our most vulnerable people, protect our health services and maintain our way of life.
‘If you’re eligible, you will be invited for a booster from at least six months after your second jab. The team has sent out invites to the majority of those past the six month mark, but there is a concern that a significant minority are not attending. So, please respond when you’re asked and don’t put this off – it is extremely important everyone invited gets their booster.’
Those attending a booster appointment will be offered one of the approved mRNA vaccines as advised by the Joint Commission of Immunisation and Vaccination. Both vaccines are safe and effective, with data from COV-BOOST trials showing both provide a similar substantial increase in immune responses.
All eligible residents are urged to take up the opportunity to protect themselves, and to think before not attending an appointment on the day as this can result in vaccine waste. Anyone unable to attend is asked to let the team know as soon as possible by contacting 111.
Booster jabs will be offered at least six months after the second primary dose, but there may be some who have surpassed this mark due to the rollout timing. Anyone who has passed eight months since their second dose and hasn’t been invited for a booster is asked to please call 111 and provide the team with their details.
Alongside the booster rollout, all adults aged 50 and over and those at risk are being encouraged to receive the flu jab to protect themselves over the coming months. Flu jabs will be rolled out to residents aged 70 and over through GP surgeries, whilst those aged 50 to 69 and those in vulnerable groups are asked to visit participating community pharmacies. Where possible, individuals may be offered both jabs at the same time.
Having both vaccines will create a shield against viruses, boost immunity and help protect health and care services particularly in the event of increased waves of both illnesses this winter.