Northern Ireland news

The groups which are due to get their vaccine and when...

The rollout of the Covid vaccination programme in Northern Ireland has hit a milestone, with more than 500,000 doses delivered
Seanín Graham

THE rollout of Northern Ireland's coronavirus vaccination programme is "significantly" ahead of schedule with more than 500,000 jabs issued.

It was confirmed that one in three adults in the population have now received their first dose with the vaccine extended to those with learning disabilities.

A total of 478,825 doses have been administered as well as 31,345 second shots.

During a press briefing, the surge in demand among carers attempting to book online for slots and abuse of the system - no proof is required by carers to get the jab - were also addressed.

The Irish News has been contacted by some carers who were told appointments were booked out "until mid- March" and that they were aware of some people getting the jab under false pretences.

Health minister Robin Swann confirmed "alternative arrangements via health trust carer co-ordinators and carer organisations" had been put in place to provide more jabs to those eligible, with each trust has its own dedicated email address.

He said those who are known to GPs are also being called forward for their jabs.

He added: "I am pleased to report that the regional vaccination centres are heavily booked for the next few weeks. I can also announce today that further vaccination appointments are being made available in the centres. These slots will be for those who are in the 65 plus age group and those who received a shielding letter because they are clinically extremely vulnerable to Covid-19."

Latest Department of Health figures show two more Covid-19 related deaths were recorded while a further 260 new positive cases were confirmed.

There were 356 Covid patient in hospitals, of which 44 were being treated ICU.

A total of six coronavirus patients were admitted to hospital, the lowest number since September 25. Admissions peaked on January 8, when 109 people required a hospital bed.

The department's Covid-19 death toll now stands at 2,043. A total of 111,651 people have tested positive.

In the Republic, there were a further 56 deaths and 574 new cases.

There has been a total of 4,237 Covid-19 related deaths and 216,870 confirmed cases.

The north's Chief Medical Officer Dr Michael McBride said cases were "heading in the right direction", but stressed that just under 300 were still being recorded each day.

However, he welcomed the rollout of the vaccine programme, saying it was "significantly" ahead of schedule.

"We are almost certainly in a better position than we were earlier in the year... as spring comes we expect a seasonal benefit in relation to the transmission of Covid, it is right that we are hopeful and begin to look to the day where we might emerge from the restrictions in place," Dr McBride said.

The CMO said the future may include taking booster doses as new variants of the vaccine came along.

"As treatments get more effective this, in the hopefully not too distant future, will be more like how we live each year with respiratory viruses," he added.

Meanwhile, Patricia Donnelly, said last week's extension of the programme to carers was largely successful and that reports of abuse of the system was "very much in the minority" but were being taken seriously.

Ms Donnelly gave a breakdown of the number of people in at risk groups who have received their first vaccine.

As of 24 February, the following had received first doses:

95% of over-80s

90% of 75-79

84% of 70-74

69% of 65-69

39% of people who are clinically extremely vulnerable and vulnerable

The majority of adults in the north are likely to receive their first dose over summer.

The booking line for those eligible for appointments is If you cannot book online, the telephone booking number is 0300 200 7813.

The Trust carer co-ordinators can be contacted via the following e-mail addresses:

Northern Trust


Belfast Trust


Southern Trust


Western Trust


South Eastern Trust


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