Northern Ireland news

Covid: A further 1,600 cases as mass vaccination centres prepare to stop giving first doses

People entering into the vaccination centre at the SSE Arena in Belfast. Picture by Mal McCann.

A further 1,600 cases of the virus have been reported in Northern Ireland, the department said as it was announced that mass vaccination centres are to stop giving first doses.

The announcement was made as it emerged that there have been three deaths of patients who had previously tested positive for Covid in the region, for the second successive day.

On Wednesday morning, there were 244 Covid-19 positive patients in hospital, with 32 in intensive care.

In total, 2,224,108 vaccines have been administered.

Northern Ireland’s seven regional vaccination centres will close for first dose Covid-19 vaccines this weekend.

Health Minister Robin Swann issued a call for anyone who is unvaccinated to come forward.

Mr Swann said: “Our vaccination centres have done a fantastic job in rolling-out the vaccination programme and will continue to administer second doses throughout August.

“However people will not be able to get a first dose jab at a vaccination centre after Saturday.

“If you haven’t already received your vaccine then I would urge you to come forward ahead of Saturday.

“Getting your jab will never be easier or more accessible than it is right now.

“You do not need an appointment.

“You can simply turn up and receive the vaccine.

“This applies to all adults and anyone who will turn 18 before October 31.”

The Department of Health announced earlier this month that the regional vaccination centres will stand down later in the summer to enable redeployed staff to return back to the health service.

This will mean the SSE Arena in Belfast and the leisure centres that have facilitated the vaccination programme will be able to resume their normal services.

A number of hospitals in Northern Ireland are struggling to cope with a surge in Covid-19 admissions, and the Belfast trust has said 60% of people admitted to hospitals in its area have not been vaccinated.

The Health Minister said: “Our health service is now experiencing the outworking of the latest surge in Covid-19 cases with a marked increase in hospital admissions and an increase in demand for critical care.

“Placing this level of demand on our health service is not sustainable.

“It’s vital that people protect themselves by getting vaccinated as soon as possible.”

As the mass vaccination centres are stood down, community pharmacies will begin to expand their vaccination programmes with the addition of the Moderna vaccine.

The new service will initially see 16 pharmacies offer Moderna with more pharmacies being added to the service on a rolling basis over the coming weeks.

Mobile vaccination teams will continue to visit towns and venues across Northern Ireland.

The department said work is ongoing by pediatricians across all health trusts to identify children and young people aged 12 years and over with specific underlying health conditions who will now be offered vaccination.

Special arrangements will also be put in place for the small number of 12-15-year-olds in receipt of a letter from a GP or Trust who live with someone who is immuno-suppressed.

Meanwhile, an additional 1,408 cases of Covid-19 have been diagnosed in the Republic.  

As of 8am today, 152 patients with Covid-19 are hospitalised, of whom 26 are in ICU. 

Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan said: “Currently, 2% of cases are being hospitalised. We know that we would be experiencing many more cases and hospitalisations were it not for the great progress being made in taking up vaccination. We need to keep this up as we move to vaccinate the remaining, mostly younger, cohorts of our population."

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Northern Ireland news