DETAILS have been revealed about how a Coronavirus vaccination programme will be rolled out across the North Of Ireland over the next seven months.
By early next year, Deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill told a Stormont press briefin that the plan is to offer vaccines to:
people aged over 65
people who are vulnerable
people under 65
By spring 2021, vaccines will be offered to people aged over 50
By summer 2021, Ms O’Neill said, it is hoped a programme of mass vaccination could be rolled out to the wider public.
As people wait their turn to be vaccinated, Michelle O’Neill said the North of ern Ireland can look forward the implementation of a “mass testing programme” for Covid-19.
Ms O’Neill said this would be “another important part of our management of the pandemic” until the vaccine is widely available.
Stormont ministers were “heartened and indeed uplifted” when they heard from the head of the Department of Health’s Covid-19 vaccination programme, she said.
Ministers were told that the plan to roll out the vaccine was “at an advanced stage”.
“When the vaccines become available – and there are seven vaccines in total – it’s going to be transformative for us as a society,” Ms O’Neill said.
“It’s the light that I believe we’ve all been looking towards.”
First Minister Arlene Foster said that the North of Ireland will be in receipt of around four million doses of the Covid vaccine and gave some details on how it will be rolled out.
She said vaccination will be in phases, starting with care home residents and staff, health workers and those over 80.
The First Minister said the plan is that between 5,000 and 8,000 health care staff can be vaccinated per day.
She hoped 100,000 health care workers will be vaccinated over a three-week period.
Earlier, Health Minister Robin Swann said: “The progress towards a vaccine is highly impressive and extremely welcome.
“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 against the virus and that will remain the case for the foreseeable future.”
The Department of Health is expected to run a public information campaign to encourage the take up among the public.