Expert advice is being awaited on whether children should be vaccinated against Covid-19. The concern is that the risks of side-effects could outweigh the benefits of being protected against a virus that barely hasaeffected them but is beginning to do so.

The Centres for Disease Control in the USA has  updated its recommendations which state that whilst the risk of going to a gym or dining indoors at a restaurant is lower for the fully vaccinated, health precautions should still be taken given the higher risks in these settings. 

Continuing refusal of some to vaccinate is thought to be due to their perceptions of government conspiracy, danger of needles and the risks of blood clots. 

There is a suggestion that employers should be able to force ‘refusniks’ to vaccinate. Such a power would depend on whether employers have a contractual right to require employees to take such vaccinations of the employers choosing. That will be highly unlikely. Employers will have to rely on whether their right to require employees to vaccinate is reasonable, given all the circumstances pertaining.

To date a total of 2,054,420 vaccines have been administered.  1,175,151 were first doses and 904,607 were second doses. The last death took place on 08 June with the total now at 2,156.

A further 429 cases were reported on Monday with a seven day case rate of 2,788. Of these 923 were in children up to 19 and 1,139 were in those aged between 20 and 39 year old.

The number of positive cases almost doubled in seven days. The seven day case rate in people between 40 and 59 years was 583, with 116 cases in the 60 to 79 year old cohort and 27 cases in those aged 80 and over.

The rise in cases expected as lockdown restrictions were lifted has been propelled even further by the Delta variant which is thought to be up to 50 per cent more contagious than the Alpha variant.

Compared to a week ag,o cases have doubled whilst the seven day average has increased by 75 per cent.  A fortnight ago there were 133 positive cases and the seven-day case rate was 1.064.

Hospitalisations are beginning to creep up from two weeks ago when there were 19 in-patients but none in ICU. The latest figures are 37 in hospital and five in ICU with one on a ventilator.

GPs report an increase in consultations with patients with Covid symptoms, albeit with younger people who are less likely to become seriously ill. The health service is straining as a result of the pandemic, years of underfunding and the lack of workforce planning.

On Monday six hospitals were operating over capacity battling to address elective care waiting times. The vaccines are working (60.5 per cent with two doses) but even so some fully vaccinated will become seriously unwell.

Community transmission rates need to be reduced, particulary among children where rates are increasing. The number of care home outbreaks is also rising — up to five on Monday — this is the group who can least afford to fall ill with Covid. 

More need to come forward for vaccination and this needs to be extended to those aged 12 and over. Public health measures need to stay in place as we enter a fourth wave with schools closing for the summer.

Whilst the British Government is proposing to do away with the compulsory wearing of facemasks and social distancing, deputy First Minister O’Neill has described this approach as "reckless". Will the Executive follow suit. We will find out when ministers meet at Stormont on Thursday.