Care homes expected to get vaccine first

Preparations are well under way to begin the roll-out of the Covid-19 vaccination programme from next month if any vaccine gets approval for use, the Health said last night.

Robin Swann cautioned however that regulatory approval has not yet been issued for any vaccine, so planning will inevitably be provisional at this stage.

The vaccination programme will be on a phased basis, and will be guided by the JCVI (Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation) on which population groups receive it first. It is expected that care home residents and health and social care workers will be the first priority, with the next recipients likely to be based on age and vulnerability.

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Mr Swann said: “The progress towards a vaccine is highly impressive and extremely welcome.

Health Minister Robin Swann. (PressEye)Health Minister Robin Swann. (PressEye)
Health Minister Robin Swann. (PressEye)

“However, I have to reiterate that regulatory hurdles have still to be cleared so we should take nothing for granted.

“It is essential that people do not relax their guard against Covid-19 now, just because hopes are rising on the vaccine front. We have to keep doing all the right things to protect ourselves.

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“The planned mass vaccination programme will be a major logistical exercise lasting many months, taking us to the middle of next year at least.

“While I am cautious by nature, I am optimistic that vaccination will increasingly do the heavy lifting for us in 2021 in the battle against Coronavirus.

“I am also very heartened by the scale of the preparatory work already undertaken.”

Yesterday’s Executive meeting was updated on preparations by Patricia Donnelly, head of the Covid-19 Vaccine Programme.

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The plans include both fixed mass vaccination centres and the deployment of mobile units to care homes. GPs and community pharmacists will also have a key role to play as the roll out progresses.

Vaccines will be deployed as they become available.

It is anticipated that each person will require two doses.