Health Minister Robin Swann has marked one year since the first Covid-19 vaccine was administered in Northern Ireland.
Minister Swann, said: “A year ago today Sister Joanna Hogg made history when she received her vaccine in the Royal Victoria Hospital vaccination centre and 12 months on, almost 1.4 million people have followed in her footsteps across Northern Ireland and received their Covid-19 vaccinations.
“It can be easy to forget the progress we have made but our vaccination programme truly has been phenomenal. In excess of three million doses have been administered to date, saving countless lives and undoubtedly reducing pressures on our health service.”
The Minister added: “The overwhelming majority of people in Northern Ireland recognise the importance of vaccination with nine out of 10 adults here now vaccinated. And in recent weeks, we’ve also seen more and more people who had remained unvaccinated come forward for their first jab. If you happen to remain unvaccinated, it’s not too late to take up the offer of vaccination. Vaccination remains the single most important thing we can do to protect ourselves from serious illness and it will also reduce the chances of you passing the virus on to those around you which in turn will help reduce unnecessary strain on the health service.”
Covid-19 vaccines are currently available for everyone aged 12 years old and over. Many in the 12 to 17 age group will have availed of the school vaccination programme, which is now drawing to a close, but this age group can also receive their first vaccination at any of the Trust vaccination hubs and they will also receive their second doses here in due course.
Anyone aged 18 or over who has not yet been fully vaccinated can get their first or second dose at any of the Trust vaccination hubs or at a participating community pharmacy. Full details on vaccination options are published on NI Direct: www.nidirect.gov.uk/covidvaccine
Health Trust vaccination hubs, Trust walk-in clinics and pharmacies are all providing the booster dose for those in eligible groups. Further information, including eligibility criteria is available on NI Direct: Get a COVID-19 vaccination and booster in Northern Ireland | nidirect Alternatively those who are aged 50 or over, and had their second dose at least three months ago can wait to be invited by their GP.
Chief Medical Officer, Professor Sir Michael McBride, said: “The Covid-19 vaccination programme has been the largest and most challenging in the history of our health service but the dedication of all those involved has been exceptional. Mass vaccinations centres came online at unprecedented speed and together with GP and pharmacy teams have helped protect and save the lives of many people in Northern Ireland.
“There is no doubt that the success of our vaccination programme is down to the hard work and dedication of the health care teams and volunteers that have been involved over the last year. I want to put on record my sincere thanks to everyone involved in the programme.”
Head of the Vaccination Programme, Patricia Donnelly, said: “A huge thank you to that army of heroes who have come forward from across the health service, general practice, community pharmacy, and out of retirement to support our vaccination programme. It’s a huge team effort to run a programme like this and everyone has played their part. They have shown extraordinary commitment and dedication over the course of the past year and more, and have played a crucial role in our response to this pandemic.”
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