More than one million people have now had at least one dose of the Covid-19 vaccine – more than 70 per cent of the adult population - and more than 625,000 (more than 40 per cent) have received two doses.
Opening the booking system to all adults is another important milestone in the vaccination programme, which was launched less than six months ago.
Health Minister Robin Swann said: “I am delighted that our vaccination programme is now open to all adults in Northern Ireland. I know this will be very welcome news for young people who have been waiting patiently for their turn to get the jab.
“Today’s announcement is another important milestone in the drive to get as many people vaccinated as quickly as we can, so that we can see a return to normality. The tremendous success of the vaccination programme has brought great hope and has helped to enable the recent further easing of restrictions. The expansion of the vaccination programme, well ahead of schedule, to everyone aged 18 and over is testament to the hard work and dedication of all those involved in delivering the vaccine throughout Northern Ireland.”
Adults aged 18 and over can make a booking from 8am this morning.
In line with the latest JCVI advice, anyone aged under 40 can book their vaccination at a Trust centre in order to receive the Pfizer vaccine.
Chief Medical Officer, Dr Michael McBride, added: “I know that many young people will be very keen to book their jab now that they’re eligible for vaccination. It’s important to understand that while the risk of severe disease is lower in young people, some may become very ill and, of course, they can pass on the virus to others who may be more vulnerable.
“We’re dealing with the emergence of new variants and we all have a part to play in keeping each other safe. I would urge everyone aged 18 and over to book a slot for vaccination, including those in older age-groups who have not yet stepped forward. Together we can make a difference.”
Vaccine supplies remain limited and as a result there will be approximately 20,000 slots available for booking this morning. People awaiting an appointment are asked to be patient as additional slots for future weeks will be released every Thursday morning.
If you are under 40 and wish to make an informed decision to receive the AstraZeneca vaccine there are slots available at the SSE Arena and at participating community pharmacies.
If possible, booking for the vaccination centres should be done online at: covid-19.hscni.net/get-vaccinated.
However, where online booking is not possible, the telephone booking number is 0300 200 7813.
Details of participating pharmacies and how to book are online at: covid-19.hscni.net/community-pharmacy-covid-19-vaccination-service.
People making bookings are asked to be patient, as demand for appointments is expected to be strong.
The ongoing roll-out of the vaccination programme will continue to be dependent on the availability of vaccine supplies.