Northern Ireland news

Effects of vaccination programme will be seen from early spring – Robin Swann

 Robin Swann said while it is the duty of the chamber to hold the Executive to account and scrutinise policy decisions, he urged against a descent into “political point-scoring”.
Rebecca Black, PA

Northern Ireland will start to feel the effects of the coronavirus vaccination from the spring, the health minister has said.

More than 100,000 doses of the vaccine have been administered, with 91,419 people having received their first dose by Tuesday evening.

Robin Swann said the roll-out is making “good and steady progress”.

Appearing at the Stormont health committee, Mr Swann described the vaccination programme as a “huge logistical challenge”.

Care home residents and staff were the first priority group.

“The vaccination of our frontline and health and social care workers is also well under way, and additional staff groups from the wider health and social care family, such as our community pharmacy, dentistry, independent domiciliary care workers, have been given access to these (vaccination) sites, and will be over the next few weeks,” he said.

“I am confident we will see rapid progress through those first four groups recommended by JCVI for vaccination – care home residents and staff, the over 80s, health and social care workers, those aged 70 and over, as well as those who are classified as clinically extremely vulnerable.”

Mr Swann said it is vital that even those who have been vaccinated continue to abide by coronavirus restrictions to help limit the spread of the virus.

“It will probably be early spring before we see the effects of the vaccination programme,” he said.

“Until then, we need to do all that we can to protect ourselves, protect our loved ones, protect wider society and protect the health service, and at this critical juncture, there is still no room for complacency.”

Read More: Trust chiefs issue warning after vaccine centre staff subjected to 'verbal abuse' by those demanding jab

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