THE approval of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine has been welcomed by NI Health Minister Robin Swann.
The vaccine will lead to a massive expansion in the UK’s immunisation campaign.
Mr Swann said deployment of the vaccine is expected next week.
The first person in the North of Ireland to receive the vaccine is expected next Monday, January 4.
The health minister also confirmed that 33,683 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine have been administered to care home residents and front line health staff in NI.
He added that vaccinations have been carried out in 80% of care homes in Northern Ireland, which he said was a “significant achievement”.
Mr Swann welcomed the approval of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine following a call with the UK’s other health ministers.
Speaking ahead of its approval, he said the vaccination programme’s pace will “increase rapidly” when other vaccines receive approval.
He added it will take time “before we see the true benefits of vaccination”.
“The vaccine has brought a renewed hope as 2020 draws to a close and we move into a new year,” he said.
“I want people to be hopeful. I want people to look forward to 2021. But I also want people to remain cautious.”
He urged people to stick to the executive’s Covid-19 regulations, particularly to “keep any new year celebrations within your existing household”.
The Department of Health said that of those who have received the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, 8,940 are care home residents, 10,484 are care home staff and 14,259 are front-line health and social care staff.
Breakdown of vaccinations:
Belfast Trust: 1,692 care home residents, 2,177 care home staff, 59 care homes, 4,806 HSC staff.
Northern Trust: 1,912 residents, 2,496 care home staff, 101 care homes, 2,200 HSC staff.
South Eastern Trust: 2,579 residents, 3,139 care home staff, 109 care homes, 3,285 HSC staff.
Southern Trust: 1,470 residents, 1,372 care home staff, 57 care homes, 1,737 HSC staff.
Western Trust: 1,287 residents, 1,300 care home staff, 57 care homes, 2,231 HSC staff.
Two doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine are needed for effective protection against the virus, administered three weeks apart.Tags: