All adults in NI will receive Covid-19 vaccine 'very soon' says Health Minister Robin Swann - US bishops tell Catholics not to take Johnson & Johnson Covid vaccine if others are available- Potential end of lockdown date identified by Michelle O'Neill - NISRA records lowest number of weekly deaths in more than four months

Health Minister Robin Swann has said all adults in Northern Ireland will have been offered a Covid-19 vaccine "very soon".

Friday, 5th March 2021, 6:30 pm

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Health Minister, Robin Swann.

LIVE UPDATES: Coronavirus NI - All adults in NI will receive Covid-19 vaccine ‘very soon’ says Health Minister Robin Swann

Last updated: Friday, 05 March, 2021, 17:39

All adults in NI will receive Covid-19 vaccine 'very soon' says Health Minister Robin Swann

Health Minister Robin Swann has said all adults in Northern Ireland will have been offered a Covid-19 vaccine "very soon".

The latest running total shows 609,798 vaccines administered. Of these, 568,011 are first doses and 41,787 second doses.

The Minister said: “These figures, which are significantly ahead of schedule, represent the tremendous effort and dedication of our vaccination teams at Trust centres and GP practices across Northern Ireland.

“I know the huge amount of planning and hard work that has gone into delivering this highly complex programme and I want to thank all of our vaccinators, administrators and volunteers who are making this happen.

“Every jab takes us further down the pathway towards a better and safer future. We’re on our way to a million doses and very soon we will be rolling out the programme to all adults through the mass vaccination phase of the programme.”

Trust vaccination centres have this week begun vaccinating those aged 60 to 64, as well as carers who can continue to book though Trust carer co-ordinators and carers organisations who are facilitating bookings.

To date 44,000 people who are Clinically Extremely Vulnerable (CEV) have been vaccinated.

Head of NI’s Covid vaccination scheme, Patricia Donnelly.

GP practices are also vaccinating carers who are known to GPs and they are also making good progress in the vaccination of people on their patient lists who are either CEV or clinically vulnerable to the virus. GPs will continue to call patients in for their jabs – you do not need to contact the practice.

Since the start of the vaccination, almost 123,000 health and social care staff have been vaccinated in Northern Ireland. This includes Trust employed staff and independent staff from the wider health and social care family. A more detailed data feed for the vaccination programme is being finalised.

Patricia Donnelly, head of the vaccination programme in Northern Ireland, commented: “This has been another outstanding week for our vaccination teams and with a good supply of vaccine to hand, we are moving forward at pace. I would urge all who are eligible but who have not stepped forward yet to make their appointments as soon as possible.

“In the coming weeks, community pharmacists will join the vaccination efforts, working in tandem with GPs and the regional vaccination centres to ensure the vaccine is even more accessible to people of all ages right across Northern Ireland. In addition, we will receive a boost in supplies of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine which means we can use it in some of our regional vaccination centres, as well as in GP practices and pharmacies. This is very welcome news.”

US bishops tell Catholics not to take Johnson & Johnson Covid vaccine if others are available

An organisation that represents hundreds of active and retired Catholic bishops in the USA is urging Catholics across the world not to take the Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine when others are available because it "was developed, tested and is produced with abortion-derived cell lines raising additional moral concerns".

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) said while it was content to recommend vaccines created by both Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech it could not do the same for the Johnson & Johnson jab.

“If one has the ability to choose a vaccine, Pfizer or Moderna’s vaccines should be chosen over Johnson & Johnson’s,” the statement read.

The USCCB is objecting to the Johnson & Johnson jab because of its use of lab-grown cells that descend from cells taken in the 1980s from the tissue of aborted fetuses.

The stance taken by the USCCB flies in the face of advice given by the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith who said "it is morally acceptable to receive Covid-19 vaccines that have used cell lines from aborted fetuses in their research and production process."

The USCCB statement was written by Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades of Fort Wayne-South Bend, chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on Doctrine, and Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann of Kansas City in Kansas, chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on Pro-Life Activities.

Johnson & Johnson has applied for its vaccine to be approved for use in the United Kingdom.

The UK has already secured 30 million doses of the vaccine, with the option of purchasing an additional 22 million.

The EU has secured up to 400 million doses.

Potential end of lockdown date identified by Michelle O’Neill

Crowds gather at the beach and along the footpath Helen’s Bay in Co. Down during the pandemic last summer.

Deputy First Minister, Michelle O’Neill, has said she is hopeful that Northern Ireland could be significantly close to completing its fifth and final step as set out in the Executive’s Covid-19 recovery plan which was published earlier this week.

There are four dates within the recovery plan that the Executive will use as mileposts to assess the current situation with Covid-19 in Northern Ireland.

Thursday June 10, 2021 is the fourth and final review date listed in the recovery plan.

Ms. O’Neill was asked during a Covid-19 press conference on Thursday evening if the Executive was hoping to be in the fifth and final phase of the recovery plan on June 10.

“That’s where we hope to get to but there are so many variables that we’re very cautious not to give people false hope,” she said.

“We will provide dates for future easements as soon as we are in a position to do so with confidence,” she said.

The deputy First Minister did however caveat her answer with a message of caution.

“We must do everything we can to try to make this one the last lockdown, with the underpinning insurance policy that this executive will take the steps needed to protect the health service.”

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