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  • Writer's pictureLove Ballymena

Great news | Health Minister welcomes excellent progress by vaccinating teams

The number of Covid-19 vaccines administered in Northern Ireland has passed the 220,000 mark.

The latest figures on Friday show a total of 196,131 first doses and 24,070 second doses – bringing the overall number of vaccines administered to 220,201.

Yesterday’s figures provide a further indication of important progress in the roll-out of vaccines to combat the virus.

In addition:

* Mobile vaccination teams have administered first doses in all of Northern Ireland’s care homes - and second doses to over 80% of the homes.

* We have vaccinated 83% of the 80 year olds and over, and have started to vaccinate 70 – 79 year olds through the GP programme.

* Online booking was opened on Wednesday night for 65-69 year-olds to book their vaccination appointments in one of NI’s seven regional vaccination centres. In the first 30 hours of the online portal, 39,825 people had booked their vaccination jabs. Intensive work has been undertaken to address teething problems with the online system, linked to high levels of demand.

* A further significant consignment of the Astra Zeneca vaccine is due in NI next week, for immediate distribution to GPs. This will help facilitate a rapid acceleration of vaccinations for those over 70 and patients who are Clinical Extremely Vulnerable (CEV) to Covid-19.

* In another important development on the vaccine front, a large-scale UK trial for a new coronavirus vaccine indicates it to be 89.3% effective against the virus. The Novavax vaccine is expected to be available across the UK in the second half of this year, if approved for use by the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA.

People in Northern Ireland have played a key role in the development of Novavax.

Nearly 500 participants were recruited from Northern Ireland for the trial which was led locally by researchers from Queen’s University Belfast and the Belfast Health and Social Care Trust.

Health Minister Robin Swann said:

“I want to thank everyone working on the vaccination programme right across Northern Ireland.

“This is a massive logistical exercise and I am very encouraged by the strong start we have made. It should be remembered that the first Covid-19 vaccine approval was only announced last month, with the second approval coming some four weeks later. We have made great strides forward since then.

“There will inevitably be frustrations along the way. We will get to everyone - we are getting to thousands more each day.”

Chief Medical Officer Dr Michael McBride thanked everyone involved in the Novavax trial. He said:

“The rapid development of Covid-19 vaccines is our long-term route map out of this pandemic. We should be rightly proud that Northern Ireland continues to play its part in the historic global effort to develop new drug treatments and vaccines. Throughout our response we have all come together in support of each other. We continue to see the benefits of the partnership between academia, health and industry and this another example.”

The Department of Health this week announced a twin track approach to accelerating NI’s vaccination programme - ensuring more people can take up the offer of vaccination and help protect themselves against Covid-19.

GPs will be focusing on the 70 plus age group with the Astra Zeneca vaccine, while the seven regional vaccination centres will in parallel be offering Pfizer vaccination appointments to 65-69 year-olds.

The plans are to offer everyone over 65 in NI a vaccine by the end of February.

People who are Clinical Extremely Vulnerable (CEV) to Covid-19 are also a priority for February.

GPs will be vaccinating a large proportion of CEV patients. The twin track approach will see the Trust vaccination centres offering vaccines to CEV patients who are frequent hospital attenders.


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