Open letter from the Public Health Agency to people with a weakened immune system regarding the spring booster

The Public Health Agency (PHA) would like to take this opportunity to encourage people with a weakened immune system to continue to book or visit a walk-in clinic for their COVID-19 vaccines. All individuals aged 12 years and over who are immunosuppressed are advised to receive a spring booster dose of the vaccine, typically six months after their last dose.

COVID-19 is still out there and the vaccine offers the best defence against becoming seriously unwell, staying out of hospital and passing on the virus to loved ones and others around you. It is safe, effective and free for everyone.

The COVID-19 spring booster vaccination programme will shortly be coming to an end, but there is still time for immunosuppressed individuals to receive their spring booster vaccination via a participating community pharmacy or at a HSC Trust-led vaccination clinic.

If you are immunosuppressed, either due to a health condition or medical treatment, you may not yet have the best protection you can possibly get from the vaccine. Additionally, there may be some people who are immunosuppressed who have not been vaccinated at all and we urge them to come forward.

Trust clinicians will have written to advise their patients of their eligibility for the spring booster. Please do take up this offer. If you haven’t heard and you think you may be eligible then you can still book a vaccination.

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation recommends that people with a weakened immune system receive their spring booster as close as possible to six months after their last dose for maximum protection. However, the booster can be given from three months where necessary, depending on individual circumstances.

You can bring one of several documents to the appointment to confirm you are eligible. This could be a letter from your Trust clinician or GP advising that you get the vaccine, a hospital letter about your condition or medication, or a prescription or medication box with your name and a date on it.

If you don’t have any of this evidence to hand, don’t worry – just speak to a clinician when you arrive for your appointment.

Find out more on how to get your spring booster vaccination at www.nidirect.gov.uk/covid-vaccine

Whether one of your vaccines is overdue or you haven’t had your first yet, please be assured that it isn’t too late. We encourage you to book an appointment today.

Yours sincerely,

Dr Bríd Farrell, Deputy Director of Public Health at the PHA

Dr Michael McBride, Chief Medical Officer (CMO) for the Department of Health

Richard Spratt, CEO, Cancer Focus

Lynda Thomas, CEO, Macmillan Cancer Support

Phil Alexander, CEO, Cancer Fund For Children

Gemma Peters, CEO, Blood Cancer UK

Jacquie Richardson, CEO, Positive Life

Sarah Sleet, CEO, Crohn’s and Colitis UK

Sara Graham, Head of Northern Ireland, Versus Arthritis

Paul Bristow, CEO, Kidney Care UK