Island on course to surpass 80% jabbed by mid-August

THREE-QUARTERS of all adults have been doubled-jabbed – with the Island’s vaccination programme expected to surpass its target of giving two doses to 80% of the adult population by mid-August, the government has confirmed.

 Picture: JON GUEGAN. (31385758)
Picture: JON GUEGAN. (31385758)

Officials have said they were pleased to administer an initial dose to more than 100 people who have attended drop-in sessions at Fort Regent so far, during the Island’s first walk-in week for Covid vaccinations. And details about a new community vaccination initiative, using mobile units at busy locations, are due to be confirmed today.

However, the Chief Minister has told Scrutiny that the emergence of the Delta variant has made community immunity very difficult to achieve.

The Island is also likely to embark on a booster programme, with over-50s, those deemed vulnerable and healthcare workers, expected to be offered jabs during September and October.

Programme head Becky Sherrington said: ‘We are working with the UK Department of Health on boosters – Fort Regent will be ready to go, but it’s quite a difficult plan to define as we don’t know yet which vaccine we’ll be offering and the timings.’

It has also been confirmed that teenagers who are within three months of their 18th birthday will be able to be vaccinated with immediate effect. Mrs Sherrington said anyone approaching their 18th birthday could now book an appointment or attend one of the walk-in clinics. She added that Jersey was awaiting a lead from the UK on vaccinating other under-18s, with the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation having approved the principle of vaccinating those aged 12 to 17 who are classed as vulnerable or live with a vulnerable relative.

Latest figures show that, by 25 July, 76% of over-18s had been double-jabbed, with a further 9% having received a single Covid-19 vaccine.

Drop-in sessions will continue until Sunday and include extended weekend opening hours from 8.30am to 3.30pm.

The government’s aim in recent weeks has been to boost take-up among young Islanders – adults aged under 30 have been able to book a first-dose appointment since 13 June, but only 62% had done so by last Sunday. During the previous fortnight, 697 people in this age group had their first dose, equating to around 4% of all those aged 18 to 29.

Ross Barnes, the vaccination programme operations lead, said: ‘More than 100 people came to the Fort drop-in between Monday and Wednesday and we are really pleased with the uptake, and we’re looking to build on that success.’

Increased supplies of vaccine from the UK were enabling Jersey to be more flexible, he added, both in terms of the drop-in sessions and the reduction in the gap between doses. The UK government announced this week that the Island would receive 4,000 extra vaccination doses.

Mr Barnes said he was very confident that the overall coverage for adults would go beyond the original 80% target by mid-August, with focus switching at that point to further phases of the vaccination programme.

Jersey remains some distance behind Guernsey, which has achieved 95% coverage for single jabs and has given both doses to 82% of the adult population.

Latest figures for the UK nations, dated 21 July, showed single-dose coverage for adults of 90% for Wales and Scotland, 88% for England and 82% for Northern Ireland. The comparable figures for double-jabbed over-18s were 77% for Wales, 69% for England and Northern Ireland, and 68% for Scotland.

The government has also confirmed that Island officials are engaging with French counterparts in an effort to clarify how those vaccinated in Jersey can meet new requirements in France regarding entry to public venues such as restaurants, bars, museums, cinemas and large public gatherings. The new law on health passports was passed on Monday and comes into force at the beginning of August.

A Government of Jersey spokesperson said: ‘We are making every effort to ensure parity between Jersey and other parts of the Common Travel Area for those visiting France, but changes may have impacts for some weeks to come.’

Those who have received both doses of a Covid-19 vaccine in Jersey currently receive a paper certificate. However, it is uncertain whether this will be sufficient to gain entry to venues.

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