Unvaccinated people aged 50 and over are almost four times as likely to die after contracting Covid-19, the Department of Health has said.
New figures from the department also show three-quarters of adult inpatients aged under 50 in Northern Ireland are unvaccinated.
The Vaccination Status of Deaths and Hospitalisations Report gives details about patients who were treated in hospital for Covid or died from the virus between August 30 and September 26.
— Department of Health (@healthdpt) October 6, 2021
It also found 22% of inpatients aged 50 and over are unvaccinated and that unvaccinated individuals aged 50 and over are five times as likely to be admitted to hospital as fully vaccinated individuals.
For adults under the age of 50, whilst the numbers admitted to hospital are lower, an unvaccinated individual is almost 18 times as likely to need hospitalisation.
A total of 2,539,912 vaccines have been administered in Northern Ireland in total to date.
In a new phase of the vaccination programme announced this week, over 130 local pharmacies across NI are now offering the Moderna vaccine to everyone aged 18 and over not yet vaccinated,
Chief scientific adviser Professor Ian Young said the statistics very much underline the effectiveness of Covid-19 vaccination.
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“Getting your jab dramatically alters the odds in your favour, in terms of being protected against hospitalisation and death,” he said.
“I would again advise and encourage people who have not yet been vaccinated to do so without delay.
“We know that vaccination does not provide 100% protection of 100% of people.
“We also know that the risk of hospitalisation and death from Covid is much higher in older age groups.
“There will sadly continue to be some older people who will lose their lives to the virus, despite being doubly vaccinated.
“We can all help to reduce the risk of this happening by doing everything we can to stop Covid spreading.
“The vast majority of people over 50 in Northern Ireland are vaccinated. This needs to be borne in mind when assessing or comparing hospitalisation figures.
“The numbers of unvaccinated people dying or needing hospital care is significantly out of proportion to the numbers of unvaccinated people in the overall population.
“The benefits of vaccination are clear and unequivocal.”
Meanwhile, Health Minister Robin Swann has confirmed that school pupils aged 12-15 are to be offered a single Covid vaccine dose in the coming weeks, in line with the joint recommendation of the UK’s four chief medical officers.
Mr Swann said vaccinations will protect that age group against the virus as well as the disruption which it can bring to their lives and their education.
“It is a voluntary programme and it is really important that the young people and their parents make an informed choice,” he said.
“Parental consent will be sought ahead of vaccination teams visiting schools, so parents should keep an eye out for the consent forms that will be coming home in schoolbags.
“There will be rare occasions when parents and their children do not agree on vaccination. Our experienced school vaccination teams have well-established processes to deal with such eventualities and will seek to talk the situation through with parents and the young people.”
Mr Swann also confirmed that the more focused approach to contact tracing that has been introduced in schools has been extended to certain out-of-school settings.
The approach, introduced in September, means only those school-aged children who have had the very closest contact with a confirmed case are asked to isolate.
This approach is also now being applied to school-aged children in other settings, including registered group childcare providers, further and higher education campuses, sports and dancing activities, youth clubs, uniformed youth organisations, and church and music groups.
The department said on Wednesday that a further two patients who had previously tested positive for Covid-19 had died in the previous 24 hours and another 1,339 cases of the virus were confirmed.
On Wednesday morning, there were 362 Covid-positive patients in hospital, of whom 31 were in intensive care.
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