Northern Ireland vaccination programme extended

ireland
Northern Ireland Vaccination Programme Extended
Coronavirus vaccine, © PA Wire/PA Images
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By Michael McHugh, PA

Northern Ireland’s Covid-19 vaccination programme has been extended to include carers and more people with underlying health conditions.

GP practices and seven regional centres will deliver the jabs, and Stormont health minister Robin Swann said the process was ahead of schedule.

He added: “The vaccination programme is making good progress and I am very pleased that we are able to announce these further extensions today.

“It had been planned to begin vaccinating carers in early March. I am delighted that we are now able to bring this forward, on a staggered basis.

“As ever, the rate of our progress through the eligible groups will depend on available supplies of vaccines.”

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Another six people in the region have died with Covid-19, the Department of Health said on Wednesday.

A further 297 have tested positive for the disease, and 434 are in hospital with the condition, with 53 in intensive care.

People aged 18 to 64 with underlying health conditions and their carers will be contacted by GPs for their inoculations.

The programme replicates those who receive the winter flu vaccine each year because of their conditions.

Carers aged 60-64, anyone aged 65-69 and those who received a shielding letter because they are clinically extremely vulnerable will be able to receive the jab at a regional vaccination centre.

Anyone over 70 who has not yet had their first dose from their GP will be able to book an appointment at one of the seven regional centres.

A total of 447,685 vaccines have been administered in the region, the Department of Health said.

Stormont ministers will meet on Thursday to consider their next steps in easing the lockdown.

Since Christmas people have only been able to leave home for essential purposes and many school children have been confined to remote learning.

Non-essential retail has closed, along with leisure and hospitality industries.

Stormont education minister Peter Weir has said he expects a definitive decision around reopening of schools soon.

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