Under 40s to be offered Pfizer vaccine as Trust hits 135k doses

The Western Trust has hit another milestone as it vaccination teams successfully administered the 135,000th dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

By Brendan McDaid
Friday, 7th May 2021, 5:17 pm

As the latest milestone was passed, staff taking a moment out to mark the impressive tally.

The centres have been set up in partnership with Derry City and Strabane District Council and Fermanagh and Omagh District Council through a collaborative working agreement.

The Western Trust hit the 135,000 dose target only a few days after the Department of Health announced the broadening of eligibility criteria to include those over 30 years old.

Sign up to our daily Derry Journal Today newsletter

Western Trust team members mark the 135,000 Covid-19 dose.

People in eligible groups can now get their jab by attending a vaccination centre or a participating community pharmacy. Those eligible also have the option of waiting for their GP to contact them to arrange their inoculation.

Western Trust Director of Director of Performance & Service Improvement and Vaccine Programme Lead, Teresa Molloy, said: “We’re delighted to be maintaining such excellent progress in the roll out of what is the single largest mass vaccination programme ever undertaken by the health service.

“By marking this special milestone we must take stock and reflect on incredible efforts of and say thanks to all our dedicated vaccination teams and acknowledge the support of our two local Councils for working in partnership with us through the use of their facilities.

“Our staff, volunteers and partners have been working tirelessly to ensure that we have vaccinated the most vulnerable and high-risk people in our communities. To date we have successfully provided vaccines for care home residents, health and social care staff, and those who are clinically vulnerable.

“Added to this we have vaccinated carers over 18 and all those within the JCVI approved age groups. Most of our work is now going to be vaccinating people with their second doses, and that is well underway. We will continue to offer first dose vaccination for a few more weeks, but there are now more and more ways for people not yet vaccinated to have access to their fist dose.”

Those who meet the eligibility criteria can book their vaccination by visiting the online booking portal covid-19.hscni.net/get-vaccinated/ or by calling the regional booking line on 0300 200 7813 from Monday to Friday from 8.30am to 5.30pm. Anyone invited to attend one of the Mass Vaccination Centres is reminded to wear a face covering (unless exempt for medical reasons), adhere to social distancing rules and bring along their booking reference number, ID and, if possible their Health and Care Number (HCN).

Following the latest advice from the JCVI (Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation), it was announced today that people aged under 40 will be offered the Pfizer-BioNTech in NI through the regional Trust vaccination centres.

Anyone of any age who has had a first dose of Astra Zeneca should proceed with their second dose of this same vaccine.

The JCVI has advised that those aged under 40 may still make an informed choice to receive the Astra Zeneca vaccine, for instance where no alternative vaccine is available, or where someone has an appointment booked for vaccination in the coming days and may prefer not to reschedule to receive an alternative vaccine.

The JCVI’s updated advice relates to reports of extremely rare adverse events of concurrent thrombosis (blood clots) and thrombocytopenia (low platelet count) following vaccination with the first dose of AstraZeneca vaccine.

The JCVI has updated its risk/benefit advice in relation to age groups, in light of the current low incidence of disease and current and projected availability of alternative vaccines. In light of these factors, Pfizer is now its recommended vaccine for under 40s.

The change means some logistical alterations to Northern Ireland’s vaccination programme. From Monday, May 10.

* People aged 40 plus can book Astra Zeneca first dose appointments at the SSE Arena vaccination centre and community pharmacies.

* People aged 30-39 can book their Pfizer first dose appointments at the other regional Trust vaccination centres across NI.

* People aged 30-39 can choose to make an informed decision to receive the AstraZeneca vaccine from participating community pharmacies if that is what they prefer or if they decide they would rather not wait to receive an alternative to the AstraZeneca vaccine.

* Anyone aged under 40 already booked for their first vaccine at one of the Trust centres, including the SSE Arena, will have this appointment honoured – with the Pfizer vaccine.

* Anyone of any age who has received an Astra Zeneca first dose should proceed with their second dose of Astra Zeneca. That’s unless they had an extreme adverse reaction to the first dose.

Head of the NI vaccination programme Patricia Donnelly said: “Protecting our adult population through vaccination is a huge and unprecedented undertaking. Logistical challenges are inevitable, but the programme has already proved itself to be highly resilient. “I would again appeal for patience from the public, as we reset the programme in light of the updated JCVI advice.

“Pfizer supplies remain steady but limited, so our progress with the 30-39 age group will be limited for the next few weeks. Likewise, those under 30 will have to wait a few weeks before being offered appointments for their first dose.”

Chief Medical Officer Dr Michael McBride said: “It is important to reiterate that the potential risk associated with the AZ first dose is extremely rare and that the threat from COVID-19 is much higher for the majority of adults.

“Getting vaccinated against this virus gives us hope – it protects us and helps us to start reclaim normality. I am looking forward to getting my second dose of Astra Zeneca in the near future and I would again encourage everyone to come forward without delay for their first and second jabs when it’s their turn.”