Islanders over the age of 30 should get a booster vaccine as soon as possible, before Omicron hits Jersey, the Deputy Medical Officer of Health has said.
Last night, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced that everyone over the age of 18 in England would be offered a third jab by the end of the year in response to the threat of the newly detected variant, which is fast spreading across the UK.
Responding this afternoon, Dr Ivan Muscat MBE, the infectious diseases expert who has been leading Jersey's covid response, welcomed the news but did not confirm whether this target would be mirrored in Jersey.
"The situation in Jersey is under constant review and we are looking at options for ensuring our population receives maximum protection from vaccination," he said.
Dr Muscat continued: “Being completely up to date with your vaccination programme, which now includes a booster dose of the vaccine, is absolutely vital in protecting against a new wave of illness and hospitalisations and ensuring we are better able to preserve our current way of life. It must be emphasised that if you are eligible for a booster, you must have this to be protected against Omicron – the current estimates are that the booster increases vaccine efficacy against infection due to Omicron to 70-75% early on.
"The current estimates also find that a full two-dose vaccination course alone is less effective against symptomatic disease with Omicron than with the original strain of covid-19 or the Delta variant. The rate of waning is unknown at the moment. Protection by the booster against severe disease is likely to be higher but this has yet to be confirmed.
“While islanders over the age of 40 who are unvaccinated or not boosted are at highest risk of hospitalisation, islanders under 40 who are unvaccinated or not boosted are still very much at risk of illness, spreading the virus in the community, and suffering from complications of Long Covid.
“If you are aged 30 years or over, you can book your covid-19 booster NOW. I urge anyone in this age group who has not booked to act now before we see the effects of Omicron in Jersey.”
There are currently 1,116 people recorded as having covid in Jersey - 18 of whom are in hospital.
Omicron reached Guernsey last week, but is yet to be detected in Jersey. All positive tests are being sequenced to check for the variant. The Health Minister confirmed following a question from Deputy Rob Ward today that the sequencing process takes around 72 hours.
The individual in Guernsey who tested positive for the variant had recently travelled back to the island from the UK.
As the first Omicron-related death was confirmed in the UK this morning, the Prime Minister confirmed that the variant was "spiking" in London, representing around 40% of covid cases in the capital, and likely to reach 50% by tomorrow.
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