92k COVID vaccinations have now been administered across the north in little over a month, the Department of Health has revealed

Nearly 92,000 COVID-19 vaccinations - enough to have partially inoculated 29% of all the over 65s in the north - have already been administered.

Monday, 11th January 2021, 4:40 pm
Minister for Health Robin Swann

Many of these jabs have gone first to front-line health workers while care home residents and people aged over 80 have also been prioritised. The Department of Health, in an update on Monday, revealed that overall 91,954 vaccines have now been deployed since the vaccine programme began.

“It is important to stress that there are different strands of the vaccination programme. Our HSC Trusts are running seven regional vaccination centres, providing the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine to health and social care staff and to care homes via mobile teams.

“From today, domiciliary care workers from the independent sector can receive the COVID-19 vaccine at the vaccination centres. The phased programme will see dental, pharmacy and optometry teams being given access to the booking system shortly,” the department said.

Health Minister Robin Swann says there is room for optimism with good progress sofar and more vaccines in the pipeline.

“There are real reasons to be optimistic for the future. At present, NI is rolling out the biggest vaccination programme in its history,” he told the Ad Hoc Committee on the COVID-19 Response.

The vaccination of health workers remains a number one priority to protect vital staff and help the hospital system cope with the pandemic.

Yet the revelation that 91,954 vaccinations have already taken place since Sister Joanna Sloan became the first person in the north to receive the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine a little over a month ago is seen as a positive milestone. Had it not been essential to vaccinate front line health workers those vaccines could have partially inoculated all of the 38,700 people aged over 85 and one in three of the 314,700 people aged over 65 in the north. With more vaccines in the pipeline it bodes well for the months ahead.

Mr. Swann said: “I can promise the House that, as the vaccine becomes available, we are working to vaccinate the most vulnerable as quickly as possible. That has been possible only with the longer dose interval, supported by the four nations’ Chief Medical Officers, the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation and the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency.”

He said the commencement of the GP programme to vaccinate people aged 80 and older was more good news.

“To date, 504 boxes of the AstraZeneca vaccine, which is 50,400 doses, have been received,” he said. Last week 45 GP practices were given the AstraZeneca vaccine to commence inoculating staff and patients over 80. At the start of this week remaining practices were due to receive a box of AstraZeneca vaccine, 100 doses each, to start vaccinating.

“Further doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine are expected by January 18,” Mr. Swann told the COVID-19 committee.

Today DoH noted: “This is a massive and long-term logistical undertaking that is progressing well. Our record to date compares very favourably with many of our European neighbours. There is, of course, much more work to be done and the programme will be scaled up rapidly as more vaccines become available.”