The Health Minister has urged people to get their booster vaccine after more than 30,000 cases of Covid-19 were recorded in Northern Ireland in just four days.
Robin Swann said the figures were “deeply concerning” and would put further pressure on the healthcare service.
Mr Swann pointed to data showing that unvaccinated individuals aged 50 and over were almost 30 times as likely to need a hospital admission with Covid-19 than those who had received all three doses.
“These figures are deeply concerning and will inevitably mean yet more pressures for health and social care services.
“The risk of getting infected with Covid is considerably higher than at any previous time in the pandemic.
“Faced with this very real threat, getting your booster dose right now is the single most important step you can take.
“This will give you vital protection, particularly from getting seriously ill from the virus. Think about it as loading the odds in your favour.
“Don’t delay and end up lying in a hospital bed regretting the fact you just didn’t get round to it.”
Boosters are available from Health Trust vaccination centres, participating pharmacies and GPs.
The Chief Medical Officer, Professor Sir Michael McBride, said: “If you’re eligible for your booster, please get it now.
“If you are over 50, you in particular need to get it now. If you haven’t had your first or second dose, it’s still not too late – some protection is better than none.”
The latest figures, which cover from midnight on December 30 to midnight on January 3, also notified the deaths of 15 patients who had previously tested positive for the virus.
A total of 30,423 new cases were confirmed on Tuesday.
In the last seven days, 50,627 new positive cases have been confirmed.
There are 112 Covid-19 outbreaks at care homes, according to the latest update from the Department of Health.
The hospital occupancy rate has been put at 105%.
On Tuesday morning there were 348 Covid-positive patients in hospital, of whom 31 were in intensive care.