COVID-19 vaccine: ‘We need to think of vaccination as a long trek to freedom’ - Swann

Preparations are understood to be at an advanced stage to ready vaccination hubs for the roll out of the first batches of the COVID-19 vaccine.

Friday, 4th December 2020, 11:13 am

A total of seven large-scale venues across the north are expected to be announced over the coming days which will deliver the Pfizer/BioNTech coronavirus vaccine, over the coming weeks.

The first batch of 25,000 vaccines, which have to be stored before use at -80 degrees Celsius, is expected to arrive next week following the approval for use earlier this week.

It has been confirmed that those administering the vaccine and other health and social care workers, care home residents and people aged over 80 will be prioritised first.

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Health Minister Robin Swann. (PressEye)

While cautioning that there were logistical hurdles ahead, Derry GP Dr Tom Black, who is the chair of the British Medical Association NI council, described the development and approval of the vaccine as “an incredible achievement of modern science, given less than a year ago we hadn’t even heard of Covid-19, never mind a vaccination against it”.

Each person receiving the vaccine will require two doses, and Chief Medical Officer Dr Michael McBride and Chief Scientific Advisor Professor Ian Young have said the roll-out will take up a large part of 2021. They also said that forthcoming alternative vaccines should be more suitable for mobile unit deployment to individual care homes.

“The first half of 2021 will require more sacrifice and more disruption to our daily lives,” they forewarned.

Health Minister Robin Swann also counselled caution. “I need to urge everyone to remain ultra-vigilant in the months ahead as each of us patiently awaits our turn. It is essential that we keep taking all the steps required to protect each other and stop the virus spreading. We need to think of vaccination as a long trek to freedom,” he said.

Mr Swann has also confirmed that people who live in the Republic and who work in the health service and care homes in the north will be eligible to get vaccinated.