Coronavirus: Vaccine roll-out welcomed by East Antrim MLA

This week Northern Ireland has begun a new phase in its Covid-19 vaccination programme with GPs starting to administer the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine to patients aged 80 and over.

Early indications show that 397 doses of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine were deployed in 13 GP surgeries on the first day of the Primary Care vaccination programme.

Northern Ireland received a first consignment of around 50,000 doses of the vaccine and more practices will begin delivering it next week.

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The roll-out has been welcomed by East Antrim Ulster Unionist MLA Roy Beggs.

Oxford/AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccines are being rolled out across Northern Ireland. Pic by Press Eye.

Mr Beggs said: “I think it is wise to offer protection to our healthcare workers first given the risks they take on our behalf.

“This will also reduce the numbers of staff that might have to self-Isolate and would be unable to treat patients.

“There is clear evidence of the high risks of our elderly citizens in our residential and nursing homes and it is right that they have been offered early vaccinations.

“I am also aware that in NI, some local GPs have already started inviting patients living in the community who are in the older vulnerable patients group for vaccinations.

“We are very fortunate that we are part of the UK where the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine was developed and our Government made an early commitment for 100m doses.

“This will mean a faster roll-out of offering vaccination than in many other countries. Your local GP practice should be in touch with you when they work down the list. Until then we should all protect protect ourselves by following the ‘Hands. Face. Space’ guidance.”

A spokesperson for the Department of Health added: “The start of the Primary Care vaccination programme this week is a real game-changer in efforts to protect our most vulnerable citizens and reduce the terrible impact that Covid-19 is having on our health service.

“Towards the end of January we will have vaccinated all of the over 80s in Northern Ireland who wish to avail of the vaccine and then we’ll progressively roll it out to the over 75s, the over 70s and the clinically extremely vulnerable. Our aim is to get the vaccine into the arms of our most vulnerable as quickly as we possibly can.

“The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has recommended a strategy of prioritising first doses of vaccines to as many people as possible. We know that after the first dose of either the Oxford/AstraZeneca or the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine within two to three weeks there is a very high level of immunity and after 21 days, irrespective of which vaccine you have, that immunity does not drop off.”

In addition to the roll-out of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine, more than 46,000 first doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine have now been administered to care home residents and staff, as well as Health and Social Care (HSC) staff.


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